My tired eyes gazed at the people lined up around the building waiting to get in and fill their need.

There are two lines my eyes see. One on this block, the other on that block. Both within sight.

In both lines, people from all walks of life are lined up, talking, and waiting. All have one thing in common, they want what lies just behind the doors they seek to enter.

Dads, moms, daughters, sons, sisters, and brothers fill these lines with life and whatever stories they have brought to share with one another while they wait.

The similarities between the two lines stop there.

These my friends are the lines of necessities and luxuries.

One line led to a homeless shelter.

The other led to a famous doughnut shop.

Two worlds so close to each other, yet both so far apart.

But, are they?

What has happened in our world where these lines have become so blurred?

For too many of us, the luxuries have become the necessities all the while for a mass majority of the world, our necessities are the rest of the worlds luxuries.

With eyes wide open as one experiences life, how can you not see both of these lines and then not stop to pause and reflect on the irony?

I wonder if the people in each of these two lines ever look across the street and wonder…

That could be me.
That should be me.

Envious, jealous, angry, sad, don’t care, or don’t even notice.

Looking at these two lines is like looking into my heart… too often. Or at least when I want to notice.

The truth is that more times than I would like to admit, I am in need of taking inventory of where my priorities lie.

What seeing these two lines does is it gets me to take a moment to pause and reflect on what things in my life are necessities and what things are luxuries.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. I have had one of those doughnuts and it was amazing. Quite frankly, I look forward to having another one REALLY soon. This is not to cast judgement on the people of one line over the other as to what their personal motivations are, but rather to take this image and the irony of it on a journey deep within my heart as a way of taking inventory of what drives me.

In this, it causes me to ask a question… have I ever put off the “necessities” of my life to make way for a luxury?

If so, what and why?

True, we call it sacrificing. But, for what?

What this whole thought process is also leading me towards is a place of transformation which is leading me to a place of redefinition of the things in my life that truly matters and the things that do not.

With this, how can I stand in one line and not notice the other?

Personal Translation #1 –  Necessities and luxuries = people versus stuff.

For in this, I believe that a life void of service for ones neighbor, is a life in need of transformation.

Personal Translation #2 – In the discussion of necessities and luxuries, I need a transformation of the currency I use to meet my necessities and enjoy my luxuries from the currency of stuff… to the currency of serving my neighbor.

In this, once you have seen, It is my belief that you are now responsible. Hmm, maybe this is why we too often refuse to look at the other line?

I know there have sadly been many times where I too, chose not to look. And for every time I chose not to look, there was a lump in my throat of regret that maybe just maybe, I missed out on an opportunity to do something great for someone else.

With this, I now recognize that the only way to change this is to understand that it is my heart that needs to be changed… not the people in the other line.

Now, let me be clear, my intent is not to make a political statement and advocate a public sector or government view of this discussion, but rather a personal and more private one. I will leave the political discussion for another time. For, to be quite honest with you, it is my opinion that legislative mandates will never lead to sustainable transformation. But transformation will always lead to sustainable mandates of change… and not because you have to, but now because you want to.

Do you now feel responsible to do something about that which you have seen?

I contest that when one truly does see, they will not simply just become responsible, they will be compelled to act responsible. When this happens, suddenly how we treat our ability to enjoy the luxuries in life becomes much different.

Suddenly, the once blurred lines between the necessities and luxuries are much more clearer.

For, it is not a matter that you get to experience luxury, but that which your heart is compelled to do with the means your afforded to that allow for such a luxury.

Suddenly, the stuff of life doesn’t seem to matter as much anymore.

Suddenly, the plight of your neighbor is all that seems to matter… forever more.

This is the tale of two lines.

It’s Thanksgiving 2013 and though I wrote these observations a few years ago, today I observed the tale of two campsites. Ponder with me here.

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3 responses »

  1. […] that are in lack are not just here in Kenya or Africa.  A friend posted a blog about comparing the lines for a homeless shelter vs. a gourmet donut shop.  So this November and […]

  2. […] I had written previously, I am much convicted as to how we have allowed our luxuries to become our necessities. With this, […]

  3. Laura Owens says:

    Great human interest story. We can all do more. Thank you for creating this Blog.

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