I've already written about how the book "Wrecked" is, well, kind of wrecking me. If I had to sum up the first half of the book in one sentence, I would say that the author, Jeff Goins, is trying to persuade his readers to believe that seeing real poverty and need in the world is how we are made truly alive. We live in such a whitewashed culture that we are always sliding towards a state of ungrateful, unfeeling consumption. At least once in our lifetime, we need to see what real need looks like.
Last night, my family went to a block party put on by a mission camp that is in town. They intentionally hosted it in a part of town that has a high rate of poverty. I was intrigued as I watched the interactions. I compared the way my kids played and conversed with others, as opposed to the older campgoers and their chaperones.
Izzy and Korban jumped right in and introduced themselves to the other children. They seemed unfazed by the dress, rough manners and sometimes strong smell of these children.
Poverty has a specific smell, you know.
The older folks, well, they had a harder time making friends. Interactions were a little awkward as they tried to find common ground and make conversation. Since I wasn't wearing a camp t-shirt, a few of them approached me wanting to, uh, minister to me. I guess that's the term. Their voices were sticky sweet and they had a little fear in their eyes. I appreciated them for trying. I loved them like I loved that woman yesterday who scolded me.
That's when it occurred to me, I don't want my kids to have to pay $400 to go spend a week seeing what poverty looks like. I don't want them to get past this innocent, easily blended age and remain isolated in their privileged microcosm. I want them to live next door to it. To make friends with it. To love it.
I want to do life with the people and their pain and their hurt and their need all blended in with us.
I want to pay $400 for my kids to get a break from it all once in a while!
When we were loading up the kids in the minivan to drive home, I noticed they smelled like poverty. I held them close and breathed a prayer of thankfulness that my kids brushed up close enough to get the smell on them.
Today, my prayer is that I'll do the same.