By Dave Andrusko
It was late in the afternoon the Saturday after Thanksgiving. My wife, Lisa, and I had established a temporary safe haven in our kitchen free from the usual chaos that comes with the presence of four joyfully rambunctious children. We’d somehow managed to wrest free a few minutes just to read the paper, enjoy a cup of coffee together, and chat. It was nice!
For reasons I did not fully understand at the time, when I read in our local paper that the Salvation Army was experiencing a dramatic shortage in volunteer bell ringers to man its familiar red kettles, I was so shocked I jumped up from the table and searched out the local number.
The gentle lady who answered mistakenly thought I was someone inquiring about a paid position. When I assured her otherwise, she was so pathetically grateful for my willingness to help them help the poor that a wave of shame washed over me.
How many times, I thought guiltily, had I brushed past these magnanimous folks, who patiently waited for some sign my heart was a few degrees warmer than the temperature outside? How many times had I been so self-absorbed that these devoted volunteers simply blended into the brick facades behind them?
I was mortified when I recall that even though I had occasionally given money, never once had I emerged from my self-absorption long enough to actually “see” them, let alone grasp what their silent vigil stood for. Because I had always looked through them, they never really existed for me. I hastily volunteered for several assignments. (In what was surely a feeble attempt at expiation, I made sure that one of them was on my birthday.)
The moral of this story needn’t be belabored to tenderhearted pro-lifers. When our culture “looks” at the vulnerable, all too often there is a failure to recognize and therefore an inability to reach out in love and compassion. This is never more true than in our treatment of the littlest Americans, the unborn child.