Friday, November 25, 2011

Thinking, That's All: On Black Friday

My sister and I drove narrow paved roads lining sun-soaked fields in the middle of nowhere Illinois, just about 25 miles south of where we grew up and a few miles of east of where our mom now calls home.

On our way to Indiana to meet a friend, she remarked about how our road was winding us toward Hopkins Park, IL, the most economically depressed community in the Midwest.

Really? I'd asked, squinting into the farm fields stretched out for miles before our eyes.

The lay of the land looked strikingly similar to the lush farm soil where we'd grown up.

Looks are deceiving.

She divulged that many of the people in these small communities of Pembroke and Hopkins Park walk dirt floors inside their homes. And a lot of that dirt is actually sand-saturated and not all that great for growing food.

The towns have no central line for gas, no sewers, no drainage systems, no schools, no police department, no stores. But they do have a lot of heart, hope and great need.

We traveled down a long stretch of asphalt and passed by weather-and-time beaten buildings, tarped-roofing covering wide spaces atop of homes, trailers sporting broken windows -- scattered toys in the driveway all signs of life living within these now-chilled spaces inundated with late November air.

My mind, spinning, my stomach still full from yesterday's turkey dinner, turning, I remembered the world we just lived in less than 30 minutes before.

A world where shoppers were lining up before midnight outside of buildings to score door-buster deals.

A city where the stores were packed before the dawn even broke this Friday morning.

Houses, ours included, where no one walked away from the dinner table hungry.

How could the faces of poverty live so close to the places I've called home and I've never known it, I asked my sister.

Surprised, she said, well, I'm glad I could teach you something today {because you know the baby of the family doesn't always get to do such teaching.}

I nodded my head, glad to know and samely dismayed to know that kind of poverty even exists in places where my feet have tread and my hands have done nothing to meet the great need ... in places just a short drive away from where door busters and day-only deals are the hallmark of the day after Thanksgiving ...

I caught her eyes, my own watering.

The need is just so great, I barely voiced.

{Black Friday, indeed.}

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