My mother, Lila Wild Rife, lived to be 99. Her mother, Mabel Riggs Dunfee lived to be 101. When I last saw my mom about a week before she passed, her final words were, “Remember the poor, Martha.” It struck me as odd because even though she had lived through the Great Depression and had known hard times, she had fared well, financially. Yet looking back on her life, she would often take an entire meal to a family in our church who had lost a loved one or was experiencing illness. I would sit in the back seat with the jar of gravy between my feet while holding onto the warm pot roast surrounded by green beans and boiled potatoes. In addition, in lieu of flowers at her funeral, she requested the monies be donated to a WV church shoe fund for impoverished children. She remembered the deprived and set a good example.
But even though I haven’t worked outside of the home for 35 years and have been a full-time wife, mother and home school teacher of my five children, how could I remember the destitute? One of the passages which I have loved and striven to read daily is Proverbs 31—the ideal wife. It states, “She opens her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy.” It further adds, “She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers girdles to the merchant.” (RSVCE) The challenge with the linen garments stuff is I HATE to sew, but I do like to knit so I began knitting simple dishcloths which required little thought, and I started selling them to people with little thought on my part of the unfortunate. The monies simply went into my own coffers.
That is until I received the Catholic Relief Services Give the Gift of Hope gift catalog last Christmas, 2014.
When I opened that catalog, I was struck by the pictures of farm animals which one could purchase as gifts, and those animals would be sent to a poor farm family overseas. Here I who need nothing could give a gift to someone who has nothing. Well today, after our Bible study class at Saint Cecilia Catholic Church in Bainbridge Island WA, my dream came into fruition. I sold $95 worth of my Frugal Catholic dishcloths and the members donated $145 more.
Yes, today my Bible Study Class and I are the proud donors of two goats and three rabbits which are being sent. With a bit of handiwork on my part and the wonderful generosity of my group, through the Catholic Relief Services, http://crs.org we are doing exactly what Mom asked me to do. In Mark 14:7, Jesus told us, “For you always have the poor with you….” but it is easy for me to turn away or simply hand them a dollar when convenient.
That is not, however, what remembering the poor is about; it is about discovering our skills to help.
Maybe your thing isn’t knitting dishcloths. Perhaps it’s doing mission work building houses in Haiti as some in our church are doing. Or possibly it is serving food to the poor in your community or visiting the sick. Jesus asks us to think on our talents and use them for His glory so He might bless others through us.
One final note is I have a large porcelain rabbit collection which was started as a young girl when Grandmother Mabel gave me my first. Is it a coincidence that I can now use my knitting to give live rabbits away? No, I think that remembering the poor has been built into my heart over the years because when my passing comes, I can take real rabbits with me into eternity. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:19