growing doubts

Walking back to the house the other day, I was greeted by Lupe bounding across the yard. Dan often parks his van (which he lives in) in the parking lot by our house and his dog Lupe is very friendly. And energetic. It's hard to keep her in one spot for any amount of time, or on the ground, for that matter.

So I stopped to talk with Dan for a few minutes, and one thing he said was that some of the guests at soup kitchen were getting rougher. More intimidating. And the first thing I thought about was what it is that attracts people like that. What do they value? I remembered Jesus' warning, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal..."

And here we have gathered treasures on earth, in locked rooms and in bank accounts; though it is not for ourselves, it is still treasure that others want. Though how could we serve others without laying up such things? I'm not sure. But Jesus did it.

Then last night a guest came in excited and announced that she had been hired for a full-time job at Sam's Club. We all congratulated her. But afterwards I felt depressed by that. Is that what I hope for the people I'm trying to serve? That they get a job and can make money (while I'm moving in the opposite direction myself)? And we had just seen a documentary about Wal-mart (the owner of Sam's Club), the largest corporation in the world, known for abuses of many kinds, including many against its own workers. And this is what we have to rejoice about? If she was excited about doing work that she was gifted for, that she found satisfying, I think I could gladly rejoice with her. But it's hard not to think this is just about making money, and probably will come at a great cost to herself. Is this the "abundant life" that Jesus invited us into?

This morning I remembered an incident from a few weeks back. A college student was writing an article about our house, sitting with us at dinner and asking questions of people around the table. And when she asked if we had any last message to tell people, one guy said, "Everyone should be doing this."

It made me uncomfortable at the time, primarily because the guy who said it was a former volunteer, someone who was no longer "doing this." And now I'm even more uncomfortable with that message. I do think that everyone is called to offer hospitality, to care for the poor, to get personally involved in the needs of those we meet and share what we have (these have been my best experiences here). But I don't think everyone should be starting soup kitchens and shelters, or even promoting them. And I understand better why people don't usually last very long doing this full-time (this is true throughout the Catholic Worker movement). I definitely don't think this is the ideal model for Christian service.

Is this the way Jesus served?