I was very frustrated with my cat, Simba, this morning. Despite a shut door, a squirt bottle, and a German Shepherd for a guard, Simba snuck into my office and attacked a copy of Maddi’s Fridge.
That is his third copy this week. I now have a three picture books that I can’t sell or give away because of teeth and claw punctures in Vin Vogel’s beautifully illustrated dust jacket.
I was feeling pretty sorry for myself, then I drove past the Issaquah Food Bank. A three-year-old girl was dancing in the line forming outside. She doesn’t comprehend the hardship her family is going through to get to this point. She is happy to be with her mother, to be in a line, and to be going in with a bag to get food.
Despite living with a neurotic cat, I have won life’s jackpot. I was born into a large, boisterous, book loving, church going, and socially involved family. We never had a surplus of money, but we never lacked for food either. And even though we have different football teams (they are 49’ers fans) and political opinions, I love them all.
Others, as we know, don’t win the lottery. They are born into poverty or tough family situations. I have never been able to explain or understand these great inequalities. Yes, personal decisions do make a huge difference, but we also play the hand we are dealt.
My dad had a phrase to sum things up, “There but for the grace of God go I.” He said it when volunteering with prisoners at San Quentin, he said it as he gave his tithe to the church, and he said it while helping those who stopped by his business.
Some of where we land in life is beyond our control.
So today I’m taking a break from work to remind myself how very fortunate I am. I have a great family, a supportive writing community, and am not worried about food for myself or my children.
And I am being led to this thankfulness by a three-year-old girl dancing outside of a food bank.
What are her prospects? Some families dip into poverty. Some face disaster after disaster and can’t climb their way out.
When she starts school will she arrive with a full belly, ready to learn?
Will her parents have read to her?
Are there books in her house?
When she begins to realize how little her family has, will she give up or will she study harder?
Will she still be dancing?
That, in part, will depend on those of us who won the lottery.