Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hiking, Poverty, and Ice Cream

While Andy and I were in Tahoe this weekend, we took a hike that led us to Emerald Bay. It was such a beautiful day. I couldn't decide if I wanted to leave my sweatshirt on or bust out with the tank top below, so the whole hike it was on and off, on and off. We sat down by the shore with the sun beating on our backs, just drinking in the splendor of the moment before we headed back up the mountain.

On our way back up we heard an onslaught of sirens. First a couple fire trucks, then some ambulances, and several police followed. There were probably close to a dozen emergency vehicles at the top of the trail when we came out.

We overheard someone say that a woman had fallen while hiking, but that's all we knew. By the time we made it back to our car, the road had been shut down because it was being used as a helicopter landing pad.

It was a somber and surreal scene. We knew that in that moment, someone in very close proximity to us was fighting for her life. In that moment, I would have done anything to help her. If I thought it would have helped, I would have climbed down to where she was just to hold her hand and cover her with my sweatshirt. I would have prayed over her and given her all my water and told her that there were dozens of people here to help rescue her.

But there was nothing we could do.

We sat in the line up of cars for a while before Andy turned the car around and headed the opposite direction. We prayed for her, the rescue workers, and the doctors as we drove away.

Then we did something that felt strangely out of place. We went and got ice cream and a latte. Our hearts still felt heavy and we both continued praying for her, but we knew it was not helping the victim at all for us to just sit in our car in that line of traffic.

It made me think about how we respond when exposed to pain, heartache, and tragedy. Maybe you went on a mission trip and saw 3rd world poverty for the first time. Maybe you watched a news report or read a magazine article that opened your eyes to suffering in the world. Maybe you went to Ethiopia to adopt a son and realized that you're leaving millions of orphans behind. And you feel absolutely ruined.

And when you get back to life as usual, everything looks different. The cost of a drink from Starbucks could feed an Ugandan family for a week. The dinner your child turns his nose up to would have been gladly received by those in war-torn Somalia.

You feel guilty for having too much, spending too much, and enjoying life too much. Until you don't anymore. You move on. Other things vie for your attention. It shook us up for a while, but now the dust has settled and we can once again sip our lattes in peace.

But what if there's another option?

What if we could live in our reality without forgetting people who live in quite a different reality? What if we could enjoy the immense ways that God has blessed our lives and receive them with gratitude instead of feeling guilty that someone else's plight is not our own?

What if we chose to live, not with guilt or with greed, but with radical generosity? What if we saw the resources God poured into our lives as a tool to bless a hurting world? What if we changed our perspective from "How much money can I make this year?" to "How much money can I give this year?"

We are among the most blessed people in all the world. Don't feel guilty about that. Be thankful, and be generous.

Don't know where to start? Here's some organizations we believe in:
By the way, we don't know the outcome on the hiker. We found a news article that said she is a 20 year old from Chico, CA and that she sustained major injuries by falling about 100 feet. As far as we know she is still fighting for her life in the Reno hospital. 


Jane in TX said...

"Be thankful, and be generous." That about sums it up. I appreciate your blog & insights.

Sanders said...

Well said.

Love you Stacie!