Rich or Poor – We are All One
There have been many synchronicities while writing this book that have created wonderful opportunities to be in the flow of receiving people and their heart-centered stories. On the day after completing the story about a street person, I was volunteering at a bookstore, when the manager, who knew that I was writing about people who were making a difference in the lives of others, came rushing up to me and said “You have to meet David Goliath Ward!”
I was so touched by David and his quiet, gentle and open way of relating to me, a total stranger, and I soon realized that David doesn’t see anyone as a stranger. Within moments, I learned that David, who had been a brother with the Franciscan order for twenty-two years, has been volunteering in homeless shelters for the last ten years! Ironically, without even knowing about the story that I had just written, he offered his insights on homelessness which gave me an entirely new, enlightened perspective.
I share the following with you in David Wards’ own words:
“Everyday I witness people who are houseless… not homeless. I recently read about a couple who lived in a multi-million dollar home in the Midwest, who lost everything in the recent market decline and tragically ended up committing suicide. Now, that‘s what I call being homeless!
For me, not having a relationship with God, with others, with the Earth…not being able to SAVOR life or be nourished, to love, to experience gratitude creates a sense of homelessness.
Several years ago, I made a wonderful connection with a man from South America, Guillermo, who made his way throughout the U.S. by hopping trains. When the need arose, Guillermo, with his green card, supported himself as a roofer, until he felt called to move on. Five years later, while on a train headed west, Guillermo accidentally fell off the train and both of his arms were severed below the elbow. When I last saw him, he was being fitted for prostheses and learning how to pick up a ball by shrugging his shoulders.
While life is full of risks, the poor are especially vulnerable due to their lack of financial resources and oftentimes all that they have is their faith to help them make it through. Guillermo had that faith. The couple committed suicide, but Guillermo did not. Although I don’t know where he is, Guillermo’s richness still touches and inspires me today because he chose to continue, to appreciate the gift of life that he was given.
I have had a long time love affair with Christ poor. After completing massage school, I started giving foot massages at a local homeless shelter. I discovered an amazing synchronicity that I had not realized at the time….the beginning of this ‘mission’ actually occurred on Holy Thursday… the day that Christ washed the feet of his disciples. With other massage students as well as therapists, we gave thousands of massages to the houseless for almost seven years. It was an honor to serve in such a loving way.
Life has an interesting way of coming full circle. My own Father was once houseless. In time, he was able to create a successful business building homes, which continued for 53 years. Although he has transitioned, his beautiful legacy, in the form of a trust, has given me the opportunity to help those who find themselves without a place to live.
Out of deep gratitude for the many blessings in my own life, my connection to the Divine and the loving generosity of my Father and Mother, I have been able to share my abundance, giving over $100,000, during a two year time span. I have felt enriched by my ability to give and only wish that I had had more to offer because the need is so great.
The number of people who are unable to maintain a home continues to grow exponentially, many of whom find themselves without a home for the very first time. What is especially upsetting is that so many of these are single women with children. The saddest cases are those who are glazed over and numb. When they are ‘houseless’, they can feel uninhabited and vacant.
I have met people from all walks of life at these shelters, who want nothing more than to be productive, but can’t find jobs. Together we have created gardens with land that was donated, enabling them to contribute and to be an integral part of a growing and cohesive community, offering hope and happiness. (View gardens at www.Nice-World.org)
What I have learned is that people are hungry, not because they don’t have food, but because they cannot savor life. We are all invited by the Creator to receive divine abundance and to share it. If you believe that your life is full of lack, then that’s all that you can give – lack. It is the marginalized that teach us what life is all about. When you have the vantage point of being at the bottom, that vulnerability takes you to a deeper level of appreciation. I believe that people can make a difference by living in gratitude!
Lately, I am choosing to give the full gift of my presence. When asked for money for bus fare, I offer to drive the person where they are going; when asked for money for a meal, I will personally take them to a restaurant and sit and eat with them. I have come to realize that if you give of yourself, they will receive what they truly needed – presence and friendship. Money doesn’t make the world work. It is loving presence that makes ‘the world go round’.
The good news, and the truth that I have come to realize, is that we are all rich. When someone connects with us on a deep level and we feel loved, then we are rich. Poverty doesn’t diminish the richness. It’s not about what people have or don’t have… it’s about what goes on inside of us that truly matters.