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Saturday, May 9, 2015
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In my last post, I discussed the Stamping Out Hunger food drive being held by the postal workers union. It was scheduled for today, and I said in that post that I’d give it a go, I’d put out a bag or two of non-perishable food items for the mail carrier to pick up. I also said that I had some doubts as to whether the pick-up would actually occur, given that the union’s website itself said that some carriers “don’t participate”, since it isn’t a mandatory thing. My friend Mary thereafter wrote in about her past experiences with Stamping Out Hunger, where her own food donations never left her premises. And then last night, my brother told me that he too had heard about this and put out a bag, only to find that it was never touched.

So my doubt level was pretty high. Nonetheless, I put out two bags this morning, then left for a morning drive to upstate New Jersey for a 3-hour nature hike (near Monksville Reservoir). The hike went fairly well (the weather was cloudy, but no bears, no snakes, hopefully no ticks), although I did get a little too close for comfort to some hunters firing off their guns — good thing that I was wearing my orange hat. I got back to my car around 1 pm and had some lunch, then drove home. And guess what? The food bag was gone! Since I’ve never heard of anything being pilfered from the porch here, I’m going to assume that the local mail carrier actually did “participate”, and that my donation is on the way to a local food panty for the needy. It’s a miracle!!

Hmmm, let’s see, what dead persons are up for “beatification” (sainthood) in the Catholic Church these days? The church often attributes miracles to a beatification candidate, as a sign from above that they should wear the halo. I would have to guess that a file has been started for Mother Teressa, and food for the underprivileged would be right up her alley. But I’m somewhat more inclined to go with the Trappist monk and writer Thomas Merton on this one . . . Merton was a “man of letters”, remember, and my situation here does involve the movers of those letters. Yea, I’ll assume that Merton looked down and provided his intercession this morning as the postal guy or lady approached the mailboxes on my porch, while I was trying to get some quiet time in out in the wilderness (recall that Merton himself spent his last few years living as a hermit out in the woods on his monastery’s property).

However, I will leave one suggestion for anyone wanting to participate in a future Stamping Out Hunger day . . . make sure that you put something on the food bags that you leave out saying that this is for Stamping Out Hunger (I stapled the SOH postcard that they sent a few days ago to one of the bags). Otherwise, the carrier can say that they weren’t sure that the bags weren’t left by someone returning from a supermarket, who just happened to temporarily set down their bags near the mail box while tending to something else. In the future, I would suggest that the union instruct everyone who leaves out a bag to clearly mark the bag as intended for Stamping Out Hunger, to avoid any misunderstandings. Perhaps the collection rate would improve somewhat.

Oh, did you say that you want a picture from the hike? Hey, like a US Postal Service miracle isn’t enough? Well, nonetheless, he’s a little overview of the reservoir from today. And since I’m involving Merton in the day’s proceedings, it seems all the more appropriate that this is called MONKsville Reservoir!

PS, OK, at the moment the Catholic Church is NOT considering Merton for sainthood, there is no official “cause” for him. But hey, a couple more miracles like this, and maybe things will start shaking. Especially now that Pope Francis is trying to bring the Church down out of the clouds and make it more relevant for people struggling to find holiness in complex and confusing circumstances. That was Merton in a nutshell!


◊   posted by Jim G @ 4:13 pm      

  1. Jim, Well! I never tho’t I’d see the day that you tho’t in terms of “miracles” and I tho’t in terms of “statistics” (altho this hardly qualifies as “statistics”). Your brother and I did not have our packages picked up; you did have your packages picked up. I *know* I properly labeled mine and placed it directly under my mailbox; can’t say what your brother did, but I’d guess he did too. Seems to me that’s one out of three that gets picked up, 33%. (As I say, hardly qualifies as “statistics”, but it’s at least some arithmetic, I think.) You attribute it to “a miracle”. I say 1/3 of the letter carriers bother to pick up the food, and 2/3 skip the extra work. Not a good record, as I see it.

    As to the hike and the picture: I’m glad you had a good hike; the lake looks particularly peaceful; the picture is a plain out beautiful one. But the hunters you got too close to! I find some of these “city” people who go hunting to prove something to themselves to be outrageous because they endanger others’ lives. We had some of them hunting in the woods south and west of the building in live in; a wounded buck came out of the woods, obviously hurt, hunters following. Finally, the police came and told them they were out of order, putting people’s lives in danger, and to leave. It’s getting so one can’t take a quiet hike without endangering his/her life.

    I must say, tho, when it comes to picking those who are eligible for sainthood, just once I’d be so happy to see some plain, ordinary person, not well known, *not* a religious person, rather a layperson, be chosen for sainthood.

    When it comes to miracles, I’d say that ordinary people should have miracles built in when the sanctity of their lives is considered. Living on a blue collar salary or holding down 2 or 3 minimum wage jobs to keep a family with even two children in food, shelter, and clothing can be classified as a miracle in itself; adding another one or two children should qualify as “double miracles”. I think a layperson should get “credit” for a miracle for doing that for every 5 (maybe 10?) years they did that throughout their lives. The layperson might “collect” at least two miracles that way for the ordinary woman or man raising a family to live good lives. Credit might also be given for something “extra” that might count as a “miracle”, say finding the money to put one’s children through parochial schools or even just good schools that promote ethical and community-care living.

    I’m *not* knocking Merton here; I certainly can see him being picked for sainthood somewhere along the line. Yet just once I want to see a layperson who struggled through serious hardships of life become a saint – or even be simply nominated for the honor. E.g., I might make a pitch for sainthood for my cousin who had no children herself but who raised her sister’s children when her sister died unexpectedly at a young age, who also took in her parents (each at different times) when they became old, frail, and sickly and had to have constant care; she also took in a loved uncle and cared for him until he died. Anybody who’s taken such responsibilities on their shoulders should get credit for at least one miracle each.

    While I have nothing against Merton, nor any person from a religious order, I very often think that much of what the ordinary layperson does in his/her life that is saintly is simply forgotten or ignored by those who manage to “pick” who’s up for sainthood. MCS

    Comment by Mary S. — May 10, 2015 @ 5:39 pm

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