Am I jaded? Last evening, before eating supper at a neighbor's house, I sat through their blessing. We all held hands around the table. Theirs is a small family, mom and dad and a boy and a girl who were not quite teens. I was seated between the kids and their smallish hands felt strange in mine. We all dutifully closed our eyes and bowed our heads. "Heavenly Father, we ask Your blessing on the bounty placed before us tonight," droned the father, "and especially please bless the children and encourage them to follow directions [one or both of them must have been into mischief]. Please, Lord, bless us all as we do our best to do Your work." He concluded as we have all heard so often, "We ask this in the Name of Jesus, Lord. Amen." Mumbles which may have been "Amen" came from around the table. Hands were dropped. Eyes opened and the three dishes of food began making the rounds. A steaming bowl of boiled potatos. Another bowl of mixed vegetables, And a tossed green salad in the third bowl. No meat. While I am sure that the starving natives in war-torn Somalia might have looked in awe upon this meal, it certainly was no bounty.
These were poor folks. The mother worked mornings as a hotel housekeeper, and what she earned was nothing to brag about. The father had just lost his third job in as many months. Once per week, the mother collected a paper bag full of canned foods from their church. The children were old enough to know that things were not going well.
I joined the father after supper as he went about the business of drinking a twelve-pack of Budweiser, while the mother and daughter cleaned up the dishes. The boy was at a computer in the corner, playing an online game. I took my leave as soon as the father's speech started slurring, happy to be returning to my own place.
I had been borderline embarrassed to share their meager meal, and also embarrassed to see the father drinking away their survival. I may live alone but mendacity does not share my roof. Do they live in fear of eviction, because the mother does not earn enough to pay their rent, not and buy groceries too? One paper bag of canned goods will not feed a family for a week. Maybe people close their eyes when they pray because they cannot bear to look at each other. I could say more but I probably should not, because I am jaded.