Sustainable Giving – II

Sister Mary Elizabeth was a nun with a mission.  Contrary to the directions of her order, she lived in what looked like an abandoned warehouse located close to the border.  The warehouse was a refuge for children as they crossed the border.

She realized that she was doing something illegal.  But she felt that the humaneness and morality were more important than laws enacted in a political arena.  To Sister Mary Elizabeth, the right to life applied to not just the unborn but to the born as well.

Her first rescue was Cariana, a ten-year old whose parents were murdered by gangs.  She had traveled by foot and crossed the U.S. border two years ago.  Sister Mary Elizabeth worked with Cariana to help her read, write and speak English.

Over time, more children found the warehouse and sought refuge.  In fact, the numbers became overwhelming.  Sister Mary Elizabeth had to seek funding for basic necessities.  Cariana was left in charge of the children.  Sister Mary Elizabeth had hoped to find a fellow nun to help with the teaching, but no one would disobey their orders.

Sister Mary Elizabeth had hopes of placing children in good homes, but that became increasingly difficult.  The children weren’t assimilating to America because Sister Mary Elizabeth didn’t have the time to work with them as she had with Cariana.

Sister Mary Elizabeth began to doubt the wisdom of her efforts.  She didn’t see a way to place the children in loving homes.  She had hoped that other sisters would join her, but none had the courage to defy their order.

Her faith was what sustained her, but the challenge was overwhelming.  As Christmas approached, Sister Mary Elizabeth worried that the children would never have the joy of Christmas with a family.  She organized a Christmas celebration, but worried that it would be a disappointment.

As the children gathered together for gift sharing, the children seemed different.  What was often an environment of despair was replaced with smiles and anticipated joy.  Sister Mary Elizabeth was amazed at how much joy could come from simple gifts.  But she really didn’t understand the reason for the joy.  After she shared her gifts, Cariana said:  “We have a gift for you.”

Mariana, the youngest child that was rescued, stepped forward.  She opened a Bible and began reading in English.  Sister Mary Elizabeth was amazed.  “How did she learn to read?  And I’ve never heard her speak English before.”  After a few minutes, Mariana handed the Bible to the next child.  Again, Sister Mary Elizabeth was amazed with both the reading ability and language capability.  In a similar way, every child took turns at reading.  And then it dawned on Sister Mary Elizabeth.  Not only were the children reading and speaking in a language not their own, but they had selected a Bible passage that was special to them.  Her faith had begun a new journey of purpose for her to follow.

As she reflected on what she had witnessed that day, she realized that the spirit of giving is not the gift itself but how the gift symbolizes what you believe.  When she taught Cariana to read, little did she realize that she was providing a gift that would then be shared over and over again.  The children had become gift givers in turn.  The greatest gifts of all are the ones that can be shared.  Often, they cost nothing but are priceless.  They represent who we are and what we value.

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“Human beings judge one another by their extreme actions.  God judges them by their moral choices.” – C.S. Lewis (author)

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