It’s bad enough that we eat better than almost everyone we know. I feel a nagging sense of guilt about that often enough, but the other day, I had a thought that caused me even more consternation: my dog eats better than most of my neighbors.
We now eat meat two or three times per week (up from once a week, since Marc needs the complete proteins in his diet for healing his knee injury). The other day I decided to splurge and get 2 kg of beef and 1 kg of pork to make a meatloaf–a rare treat, but one everybody loves. Unusually, after I eliminated all the fat and bones from the beef, there seemed to be a lot more than usual. I decided that there were a few less bones than usual, which left me with more meat than I needed. I was sure we would eat the meat loaf, anyway, since we rarely leave much left over. I surveyed the bowl full of scraps and said to my little helper, Hannah, “Simba’s going to eat good tonight!” (Dog food is more expensive here than feeding animals people food, so Simba just eats what we eat.)
I looked out the window at the family next door, working hard weeding their shamba and harvesting their sweet potatoes. I wondered what they would eat tonight. And I could guess: ugali, probably with greens, and maybe some beans. We were having meatloaf. And my dog was eating beef and pork “scrap” that would have been an amazing blessing to these people.
Shame. That’s what I felt.
Not to alleviate the feeling or to pay penance for it, but because I genuinely wanted to bless these hardworking and worthy folks, I sent some beef over to my immediate neighbors and a family a few houses down from us. I was happy to do it…and wished that I thought of doing it more often.
The very next day, the young mother from several doors down stopped by in the midst of her morning’s work. Her hair was disheveled, her clothes worn, and she nearly everywhere had dried mud clinging to her from digging her jembe into the dirt. She nonetheless beamed (and I always love to see her smile, anyway–it’s lovely!) and greeted me eagerly, saying, “Thank you so much for your gift yesterday. I was very excited when Jonah brought it, because we haven’t had meat in a month and I praised God for sending it!”
I want to remember this, so I will continue to send on little blessings more often than I do. I always “give to those who ask,” (see this post, for example), but I admit that I think less often about giving when the need is not obvious. It’s easy to get caught up in our routines, absorbed in what we’re doing, and forget about what it might be like behind other people’s closed doors. But let’s not.
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. ”