Which, aside from the number of "donate"s, isn't bad. But the more I tried to adapt it for us for the coming year, the more I struggled. How do I take 6 young kids to a homeless shelter? How helpful would I be at a food kitchen chasing Teresa? I just went through all our clothes a couple months ago and already donated anything we didn't need... I don't have much left to donate.. and I really don't have the funds to be donating to many ministries, no matter how worthy.
I've been frustrated wanting to do something to celebrate a year dedicated to God's greatest attribute and not being able to find a way to do it in our present circumstances.
And then I got tired. Really tired. Like 3 kids ruining my sleep multiple nights in a row tired and I spent a few days zombie-ing around the house and something I heard not too long ago bounced around in my head. The readings on November 8th were of the two widows who give all they have, one to Elijah and one to the temple treasury. And I kept thinking of a homily I heard that weekend asking if we give only when it is convenient or do we give until it hurts. I thought of it when I just wanted to sleep but cute little people kept needing me and I had to keep giving even when it hurt. And I realized, parents give until and when it hurts all the time. Right now it is really difficult and somewhat unrealistic for me to run around to homeless shelters and soup kitchens and habitat building sites in this season of my life. But I really don't need to. I have 6 little people who ask for works of mercy from me all day, every day and some nights too!
Now, the idea that a parent's care of his or her child being a work of mercy was not new to me. I'd heard it before from Kimberly Hahn. Little people get hungry, thirsty, naked and definitely need plenty of correction! But what did hit me in a new way was that there are acts we do for our children when we want to and perhaps even need to, but then there are also acts we do or can do for our children that we really don't want to, that are painful or frustrating to do or are more than we really need to do and can really push us. And it is these acts - the care even when we are exhausted from being up all night or when we are growing impatient after a solid week of no potty-training progress or just desperate for a break that we can give until it hurts. Those are our "widow's mites." When we ache and are exhausted and are just ready to lose our patience or do the minimum, those are our chances to give our everything and they happen all the time right under our own roofs.
So while I am all for doing what we can for the Year of Mercy in terms of soup kitchens and donations, even if we can't do much in those ways, there is still a great effort we can do from home at home.