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December 4, 2010
I wouldn't say it was cold, but it was chilly, all right. We would have evening prayer around the bonfire that two of our number had built in the big stone firepit. I had declined our hostess' offer of a jacket -- I had a wool shawl. I'll sit close to the fire, I told myself. But there is something about sitting next to an outdoor fire that I had forgotten: only one side of you gets toasted at a time. If your front is warm, your back is going to be cold. It was all right, though: evening prayer is brief, and we were on our way back inside in no time.

Until very recently in human history, this is what it has been like: people have bought their warm fronts with their cold backs. They woke in the cold, and had to break the layer of ice that had formed in their wash basins while they slept. Winter was a continuous search for firewood. They carried a baked potato in their pockets on their way to their work: lunch and a handwarmer in one. I watch a Jane Austen movie and, as always, admire the costumes. But those short sleeves!? In winter!? They must have been cold all the time.

But their hearts were warm. they knew how to have fun with each other, how to talk and laugh and sing and dance. At dinner afterwards, the candles were lit, the food was wonderful and the conversation was freewheeling, loving, lively. The dog made the rounds of the diners, hopeful of a handout but happy with a stroke and a pat. Such plenty! Such abundance! I thought again of people long ago, of their never-ending for food and warmth, and of people even now who are still not warm, still not fed. Almost as many people in the world are hungry as are not, a strange and terrible fact when one considers how much we are able to do in this world, how smart we are, what wonders the human race has accomplished -- why not this? Why should it be so hard to see to it that nobody is in need?

Whatever else feeding the hungry may be, it is not simple. Delivery isn't simple. Protection against fraud and theft in poor countries isn't simple. The delicate and essential balance between giving people food and building their capacity to feed themselves isn't simple, and this capacity is what they need most. The best minds are needed to accomplish this, and some very good business minds indeed have become fascinated with it as a worthy puzzle, to which they are devoting their considerable gifts and encouraging others like them to do the same.

Mine is not the great business mind, nor mine the fortune, to be one of those people. But I have what I have -- we all have what we have. What I can present is my years of serving God in the Episcopal Church, in a variety of places, as best I could. This Monday marks the 30th anniversary of my priesthood, and I am hoping that some eMo readers will be moved to celebrate it with me by making a tax-deductible gift to Episcopal Relief and Development at ER&D will inform me of your gift, if you desire it, and you can request that in the course of making your donation. You can also donate by mailing a check to Episcopal Relief & Development, P.O. Box 7058 Merrifield, VA 22116-7058. To donate by phone, please call 1.800.334.7626, ext. 5129.
Copyright © 2019 Barbara Crafton
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