Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Life: Samaritan Woman at Ralphs?

Sometimes I go shopping for groceries late at night or early in the morning to avoid the crowded lines at my neighborhood Ralphs. One evening I was in line and in front of me was a twentysomething woman juggling a toddler, her groceries and her pocketbook. After the clerk finished scanning all her items, she handed over a number of food vouchers. Each one had to be scanned and it took a bit of time for all of it to happen.

Did she shop late at night because she didn't want people to see that she was a single mom on welfare who would tie up the clerk processing her food stamps? Did she shop late because she works all day and this was the only time she had to go get food for herself and her child?

As I watched this unfolding scene, I really didn't know what to say. All I could do was pray: God, does this woman know You and receive daily strength and wisdom through prayer? Does she have a family of faith to keep her going when the burdens of her life situation gets unbearable? Please bless her and help her.

Later on, I had to ask myself what is the role of the government and the church in this woman's life and others just like her? What kind of public policy would have helped prevent her from having a child too young and out of wedlock? Yes, teach abstainance but what about birth control? The liberals say pass out condoms and birth control patches and unlimited access to abortions. The conservatives say abstainance is all you need. How do we balance the two approaches? And then what do we do when abstainance and birth control fail? How much do we encourage adoption? And how much do we support the single mother who is low income?

What about the role of the church? Are we reaching out to young people and giving them a sense of the Divine so they won't seek to fill the void with premature sexual activity? And how welcoming are we in the church to the woman at the check out counter?

Sorry, no answers to these questions.

No comments: