It seems that poverty has been the theme of the week in my life. I led a discussion on poverty at a staff meeting on Tuesday night. The next day Jim and I finished our taxes and, as two self-employed people, we’ve paid plenty to the government. When Jim looked at our net income and compared it to the poverty level stated in an article related to the new health care reform law, he looked up from his newspaper and asked, “Do you realize we live at poverty level?”
Maybe we do, on paper. Maybe we don’t take extravagant vacations or buy new appliances the minute the old one breaks, but poverty is relative. And when I consider all the gifts the earth gives us, I don’t feel impoverished at all.
The spring flowers are beginning to welcome us everywhere. The crocuses and snow drops have disappeared, replaced by daffodils and hyacinths (I so love that smell!). My cabbage and broccoli plants are standing proudly in the garden and the potato hills look like two snakes stretched long across the garden.
The green garlic tops are growing and I’m excited to know I should have a good harvest this year. It takes garlic two years to establish large, clustered cloves so remember that when you plant and harvest. Thanks to a gardener friend who had extra garlic to plant, I now have a second garlic bed so can alternate harvests between the two of them. My next project will be to learn to make garlic braids that I can give to friends as gifts.
This afternoon I’ll plant onions and more greens and peas. I’m trying to straggle the planting of some of the spring crops so they don’t all come in at once. Then I’ll come inside to enjoy another bowl of vegetable soup with homemade honey-wheat bread. Does that sound like poverty to you? To me, it feels like a life blessed with gifts I could never have bought for myself.
Yet, there are people who do not have food today all over the world. I was just at the local hardware store where an elderly man was buying seed to grow collards. One seed pack cost 1.99 so it's the only seed he bought; it was all he could afford.
As I dig this afternoon and feel the cool dirt against my fingers, I will pray for those who truly do live in poverty. I will also pray for those of us who can help meet that need, that we will respond when God nudges us to share.