Sunday, July 6, 2014

Saving the World

Affirmation: I believe that my prayer to help someone in need is always answered and is supported by God in amazing ways that I cannot even imagine.

In the book The End of Life Book Club by Will Shwalbe, he tells the story of his mother's life.  The story revolves around her battle with Pancreatic cancer and their journey through her treatment and as you can figure out from the title, her death.  They are a two person book club with either the advantage or disadvantage depending upon your view, of not having to provide food for the attendees.  There is a long list of books they read and discuss over the two year period of her treatment.  It appears they have always been a two person book club but didn't "officially" establish it until they were sharing her final challenge.  It's cleverly written in that with each book read, he not only writes about the book but about his mother's life.  I've made a list of each of the books with the intention of reading some of the ones they shared. Some of them I've already read.  I already know, however, that I'll be skipping some of his recommendations.  They are way too disturbing for my taste.  Just listening to the struggles of the protagonists on their reading list was enough to remind me of how cruel the world and fate can be.  He is a publisher at the beginning of the book.  His mother is an activist and a heroine.  She's in her seventies at the time of her diagnosis and has been a "first" for women in many fields and areas. For example, she was the founding director of the Women's Refugee Commission. 

She was an advocate for women and children refugees all over the world and she'd traveled to many of those areas. You can Google her or read the book if you'd like more information.  Her final project was to build a library in Afghanistan and she wasn't going to die until that was accomplished.  It was built.  I guess she was a lot like Angelina Jolie, just not a famous celebrity.  I also have the impression she didn't have the protection, guidance or ease of travel given to a famous movie star.  She was in the trenches with those who most needed help.  Mary Anne Schwalbe was a courageous and compassionate woman.  Her whole life regardless of the danger of difficulty, revolved around being of service to others.

This has been a good book for me.  I live a blessed life of comfort and the older I get the more I seem to gravitate towards being comfortable.  That includes an element of safety.  I have not traveled to "dangerous" places, at least as far as I believe.  I know sometimes going around the block can sometimes be dangerous.  I have, however, been working at seeing the broader, worldwide picture of those in need.  I know there are people suffering in ways I cannot even imagine and don't want to imagine.  My husband, Sandy and I sponsor several children in different programs around the world. We've always contributed to our church's appeals and those of nations who suffered natural disasters and we make every effort to reach out whenever we are directly faced with a need we can assist.   
Our church, St. Michael the Archangel, has a sister parish in Honduras and we support that and more recently we reached out to a charity in Tanzania presented to us by St. Bernadette Church in Linville, NC.  We've also supported Oie Ostercamp's Share Fish organization which does work with the poor in Honduras. Last year, after I read Fr. Albert Haas' Catching Fire, Becoming Flame in order to do something more, I added praying the Rosary for those "most in need of God's mercy."  It allowed me to stay safely in my comfort zone and yet to become more sensitive and aware of the world's plight.   I'm sharing these examples to illustrate that I've really tried to be more "world conscious."  I try to stay informed but not overly concerned because I feel I only have so much energy and some days just caring for myself and my family is all I feel I can do.  Let's face it, the world is a very big place and here I sit, one of billions of beings.  What kind of a difference can I make? Yet, when I read about people like Mary Anne Schwalbe, I wonder what more can I do?  What else can I add to my efforts that might bring comfort, peace, hope and even joy to those suffering on this planet?

Then recently, one of my study groups began Anthony DeStefano's, Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To.  One of the first prayers he offers is, "Please use me to help someone in need."  I hesitated.  My initial reaction was to back away.  I fully recognized this was a prayer God would not deny but what would be required of me in order to follow Her will?  Would I be asked to travel to a third world country undergoing revolution or that had just experienced a devastating weather event?  Would I be asked to give up all I now have, like the young man in the New Testament and follow God to poverty and perhaps martyrdom?  Perhaps even worse would be if more and more was added to my already full plate and in an effort to do be of greater service to the world, I became neglectful of where my true service lies, my family and my community.  I could immediately see all the pitfalls of such a prayer and yet, I felt ready to step out in faith.  I said the prayer.  I've been saying it now for several weeks and as I've journaled I found myself relaxing in the prayer, relaxing in my belief that if I'm called to do God's work, to be of more service to those in need, that God will provide the support to do just that.  I am stepping out in faith.  I believe that through prayer not only will I be of greater service but that I will be given the discernment to know which requests are from God and which are of my ego.  Deep breaths, quiet time and prayers from the depth of my heart will lead me where I am most needed.  Yes, it could be to some third world country.  I trust God will come with me there too.  It could also be to a place I haven't yet examined, a place within, which takes me to a marvelous place not so far from where I am now but enables me to see it in a different light, a light of service right here and right now. 
What do you think?  Are you willing to step out in faith?  Go ahead, say it, "God, please use me to help someone in need."  I hope you'll let me know what you discover.

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