Soul-devouring Poverty

See Soulwork Toward Sunday: self-guided retreat
Proper 23 (year B), October 14, 2012
“the rich young ruler”

For he had great possessions, George Frederic Watts, 1894

Poverty is no romance. Poverty makes you sick in body and spirit and psyche, and poverty eventually kills your soul. Even in my own wealthy country, widespread unhealthy diets limit brain, bone, and neurological development, putting children at risk. Environmental toxins disproportionately affect the poor. Sheer soul sucking despair creates a perpetual state of crises and stress. The exceptions of those escaping poverty only prove the rule.

I’ve seen the gap between rich and poor widen exponentially in my own lifetime. Public schools in better neighborhoods are pre-eminently better than schools in poorer neighborhoods. In this age of information and technology a person without a good education is lost. In some states a person can’t vote without a driver’s license or photo ID. (I loved a recent personal interest story in the news about a frustrated middle aged woman trying to get a photo ID and being blocked repeatedly. Rhetorically she asks the reporter, “Who do they think I am, Osama bin Laden’s wife?”)

Fortunately, some people choose material poverty, living on the prophetic boundaries as witnesses. Witnesses to the degradation of poverty. Witnesses to the shallowness of a society that refuses to look at the long term detriment of poverty to democracy. Witnesses to the soul crushing consequences to the rich who choose to ignore the needs of the poor.

Jesus, in the tradition of the prophets, proclaims good news to the poor and not so good news to the rich. But many who are first will be last.  And, It is easier for a camel to go through a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Gandhi was once criticized for helping Untouchables. “You should not help them. This is their karma,” said the critic.
“You do not understand karma, replied Gandhi. “The Untouchables are there for you. How you respond to them determines YOUR karma.”


One Response to “Soul-devouring Poverty”

  1. Suffering and Grace « Reedofgod Blog Says:

    […] Suzanne Guthries’ blog [ ] Suzanne says near the end…“Suffering opens my soul to love. And when my suffering meets […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: