11 February 2010

Lent is coming

It hardly seems possible but in a few days Great Lent will begin. I'd like to share something from Bruce Gardener who long ago gave me permission to quote him here at TTLS.
    My sisters and brothers,

    As a teenager Lent was a time for giving up something. That notion followed me well into adulthood. Then, through the help of some wonderful clergy, I began to look at Lent as a time to engage in a discipline of some kind in an area of my life where I thought it appropriate.

    For many years now, I have tried to engage in and maintain a discipline for the days of Lent. This year I would like to challenge all on this list to join me in an act of discipline that will benefit some of the least among us.

    My idea, which I will present shortly, came about through a birthday dinner for a couple of friends. Six of us went to a nice restaurant to celebrate. Actually it was one of those wonderful Brazilian restaurants where everything is grilled over an open fire and they keep bringing food as long as you want it. It's truly a place to become a walking example of gluttony if one is so inclined.

    As I thought about the cost of that meal, I realized that what six of us had spent in one evening on food and wine what was probably an entire year's wages for some of our sisters and brothers in Haiti.

    Despite the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed the celebration, it brought to mind the reality that even the poor in the United States are wealthy by much of the world's standards.

    It also brought to mind that when I give thanks to God for the blessings I enjoy, my constant promise is to share part of my blessings and bounty with others.

    Thus I came up with an idea: For the entire Lenten Season, whenever I go out to eat, pick up fast food to bring home, or dine in a similar fashion, I will make a donation to Episcopal Relief and Development in an amount equivalent to what I spent on "outside" food. My plan is to keep track of what I spend and make my donation on a weekly basis with the designation that it go to relief efforts in Haiti.

    My challenge to all on this list, but especially to those in the United States, is a simple one: Join me in making such donations. My preference is that Episcopal Relief and Development be the recipient of such donations, but giving the donations to other Haitian relief agencies would also accomplish the goal. Earmarking donations for the relief of the indigenous communities hit by the recent ice storm would also be acceptable.

    The challenge does not include anyone's regular grocery shopping, etc. It only applies to the situations I described above.

    I'm asking that this be taken on as an additional discipline. I'm not asking anyone to give up dining out for Lent. I'm not asking anyone to cut back on anything. I am asking that we take on this discipline as a way to share our bounty with those who are in such desperate need in Haiti.

    Being sensitive to the situations of our sister and brother deputies and bishops who do not live in the United States, I do not want to see this challenge to help Haiti become a burden to them. Some already endure some of the same conditions as exist in Haiti. So the challenge is directed specifically at those of us who live in the United States.

    I am fully aware of the economic issues that face many of us. At the same time, I have a hunch that even those of us facing our own economic challenges are still in the "blessed category."

    I have no plans to "track" any of this. I'm not really interested in having a bunch of folks chime in and say they will accept the challenge. I'm interested in us doing something primarily for our sisters and brothers in Haiti. The Diocese of Haiti is already trying to look after the needs of 25,000 people. The sheer enormity of knowing that is overwhelming to me.

    We are so blessed; let us give thanks - in deed and donation, and not just in voice.

    Bruce Garner
    Exec Council