Lenten Reflections

Week 2 –  Repentance:  Changing my mind

“Repent” has been given a bum rap—the word “repent” doesn’t come from Latin roots (paenitere – to feel sorry).  Repent has Greek roots and comes from metanoia—to change perspective, to change world view.

How am I a part of the pain that is inflicted on others?

Until it is revealed to us, often the ways in which we inflict pain are invisible to our eyes.  Otherwise, as people of faith, we wouldn’t be party to them.  Consider today how you think about the homeless in our area.  Most of us struggle between giving money to people on the streets and giving money to specific charities that help them because we want donations to make some sort of difference.  
Bobby Weinstock, a housing advocate at Northwest Pilot Projects, which helps people 55 and older find housing, says this:

Many homeless people report the pain of feeling invisible, ignored and not respected as a fellow human being. To reduce this suffering, I like to interact with the panhandlers I encounter.

I do this by offering Sisters of the Road meal coupons to ensure I’m contributing to nutrition rather than addiction. Most homeless individuals do not panhandle. Many panhandlers are not homeless. Panhandlers who are homeless are a small but most visible segment of the total homeless population.
Many of us don’t see the same homeless people on a daily basis, but when you do considering being friendly instead of ignoring them.  In some cities, where homelessness isn’t as rife as Portland, people regularly check up on their homeless, stopping and talking to them by name, bringing food and asking how they are doing. Noticing them and calling them by their name gives them dignity.


Ansari’s Munajat

O God, I have neither a key to open a door,
Nor the magnanimity to forgive myself.
O Thou without a partner, divine in the act of creation,
What harm could there be in rescuing an indigent at his last breath of life?
Without Thy commandment this world would not last a moment;
Without Thy guidance all creatures would be powerless.
Shouldst Thou overlook all that I have done and not done,
I would gain thereby, and Thou wouldst not lose.
– Every Eye Beholds You.

— Khwajih ’Abd Allah Ansari (1006-1088) was a descendant of Abu Ayyub Khalid ibn Zaid Khazraji, who had sheltered Muhammad in his house when the Messenger fled to Medina.  Ansari, who was born in Afghanistan and was the son of a shopkeeper in the bazaar of Herat, acquired an education and became a scholar of the Qur’an and a poet who wrote in Persian and Arabic.