As I hear the bell ring I let out a tired sigh. Part of me wished that you wouldn’t show up today. It is cold and snowy, the kids are crabby and I just want to stay in my pajamas. As I let you in to do some work in my house, I think about the way you haunted my fragmented sleep last night. Even though the heater was on in the kids’ room, I shivered as I sat to nurse Zara. And as I shivered I thought of you and the people you now call family. I thought of the way the wind whips around the hill where your house is. I thought of the 5 inch gaps that surround the window in your one room dwelling. I thought of your thin clothes that are insufficient for fighting off the stinging cold.
I am not sure how exactly I got tied up in your story, but I am pretty selfishly sure that I wish I wasn’t. Every story and plea for money that you share becomes even crazier than the one before. They both tick me off and break my heart at the same time. They tick me off because in all honesty, I don’t want to be burdened by your problems and the seemingly impossible task of finding a solution that will both empower you and bring justice to your oppressors. I would much rather hole up in my warm house for the winter and pretend that I didn’t need to worry about the cold, hungry and lonely souls around me. Because that is just messy. And I don’t like messy.
But the non-Grinch part of me hurts for you. I hurt every time I see your body quaking from the cold when I open the door. I hurt every time I tell you I won’t give you another loan…because I don’t know what that no means for your wellbeing tonight. I hurt when I see you hungrily eat a piece of naan and wonder if your belly is ever full. I hurt when I think the pressure that sits on your thin 13 year old shoulders; to work or plead or beg for money to feed hungry mouths and fill greedy hands. I hurt when I think of your loss; your mother who has died, your father who is absent, your three young brothers living elsewhere. I hurt because I want to give you the world, but at the same time I don’t want to give you anything.
I don’t know how to reconcile where we stand these days. As much as I want to pretend that you don’t exist, my heart can’t and won’t let that happen. It has a lot to do with the fact that my Holy Book says that there is no better way for me to spend my life than by helping people like you. It is messy, painful, costly and thankless work. But my heart won’t fully rest until I am in the middle of the mess.