"...and you need a helping hand. And nothing, nothing is going right..."
I covered for our church secretary yesterday afternoon so she could keep a doctor's appointment. It doesn't pay much, but sitting in her chair even for a short time I sense the pulse of our parish in a way that's impossible to feel from just attending weekly Mass and dropping a check or two in the offering plate.
In the two hours I sat there yesterday afternoon, two people approached our church for assistance. First, an elderly woman called, needing help with paying her rent. I gave her the number for our St. Vincent de Paul Society because that's what they do, help people in our parish with electric bills, rent, doctor's bills, you name it. If someone calls who isn't in our parish, they let them know where to turn.
Soon afterward, a young man stepped into the foyer, his face wearing a mixture of desperation, hope, gratitude, anxiety and relief. He had contacted SVP but missed the return call from our member and came up to the church, hoping to find her there. Even though I wasn't the person he sought, he thanked me and blessed me anyway, patting my arm in gratitude, tears edging the corners of his eyes.
"... to brighten up even your darkest night. You just call out my name and you know wherever I am, I'll come running to see you again. Winter, spring, summer or fall...all you have to do is call, and I'll be there. You've got a friend."
I didn't know the young man. I'm not sure if he's a member of our church or not - the St. Vincent de Paul Society does their best to help all in need regardless of their beliefs.
But I imagined him to be a young father trying to help his family, responsibility and love overcoming any feelings of shame he felt for having to ask for help. Or maybe he was a son, trying to get help for his elderly parents.
All I know is, before heading up to the church, I had to sit and pay some bills before late charges were tacked on and the gloom cast by our dwindling bank account still lingered in my heart knowing there were still more to pay today.
Yet witnessing the desperate hope and gratitude of this young man, I immediately gave thanks myself that, dwindling funds or not, at least I had money to pay them.
"If the sky above you grows dark and full of clouds and that old north wind begins to blow, keep your head together and call my name out loud. Soon, you'll hear me knocking at your door."
Then I remembered the twenty raffle tickets I shoved in my purse two weeks ago. Our parish's annual Oktoberfest is coming up on October 8 and the proceeds, including those from the raffle tickets, help fund our St. Vincent de Paul Society, as well as our other church organizations, like the Women's Guild that, among other things, provides school supplies for low-income families and Easter baskets for nursing home residents.
Despite good intentions to start peddling those raffle tickets right away, they're still right where I shoved them, buried in the bottom of my purse, along with forgotton pennies, crumpled gas receipts and those good intentions.
If I could, I would just buy them all myself, plus some, but I can't. I'll buy a couple, but starting today, with the old women's voice and the young man's face in my mind, I'm peddling the heck out of the rest of them to everyone I meet, starting with you.
I hope I sell so many I have to run up to the church for more!
So here's the deal. For a $10 ticket, you get a chance at 5 different prizes and you don't have to be present to win.
1st prize - $5000 gift card
2nd prize - Maid service for 1 year (or equivalent value gift card of $3000)
3rd prize - Apple iPad 2 (or equivalent value gift card of $800)
4th prize - American Girl Doll or Electric Scooter (estimated value $450)
5th prize - Weber Performance Charcoal Grill (or equivalent value gift card of $450)
I confess that in all the years I've been buying and selling these tickets, I've never won and neither have the people I've sold them to. But I keep hoping - that's what these tickets are all about, right? Giving hope?
If you're interested in buying one or two or twenty, e-mail me at barbarashallue (at) yahoo (dot) com and I'll let you know how to get your ticket or tickets. But whether or not you buy any, please say a prayer that enough money is raised to help all of those who will need it in the coming year.
"Ain't it good to know you've got a friend when people can be so cold. They'll hurt you and desert you...and take your soul if you let them...oh, but don't you let them. You just call out my name, and you know wherever I am, I'll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer or fall, all you have to do is call, and I'll be there.
You've got a friend."
This is actually Part 2 of a post from 2009, where I wrote "Even before the economy took its latest nose dive, thousands were laid off from their jobs, and the sun went on overtime, there were many among us who were already struggling."
The need itself never ends, does it? Next year I'm sure I'll be writing a Part 3.
(click HERE to see the whole post.)
Oktoberfest itself is a lot of small town fun (you know, a carnival for the children, a country store, silent auction, turkey legs, music, a German dinner, bingo) so if you're in the area, come on over!
Here are the details:
Saturday October 8 from 8am to 7pm at St. Mary Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church (6100 Lohman Ford Rd. Lago Vista, Texas, 78645.)
**** Admission is free, but full disclosure: our motive is to Raise Money! *****
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
~ 1 John 4:11