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Washing Dishes With Pope Francis

Our dishwasher bit the dust. First it wouldn’t drain, then it flooded and then it started making a LOT of noise. In dishwasher years, it has lived a long and happy life.

The cost of the parts needed for repairs is more than half the cost of a new dishwasher, so it’s time for a new dishwasher, but we haven’t bought one yet – too many other things going on.  So we’ve been washing dishes by hand for the last few weeks.

I was up to my elbows in hot soapy water one evening and silently feeling sorry for myself since I had to wash dishes by hand.  Then Pope Francis and his teachings hit me like a sink full of dirty dishwater.

Here I am complaining about doing a simple easy task using hot soapy water when so many people have to walk miles to get any water at all. I am in a warm safe house when so many are suffering from the brutal cold winter and others don’t even have a place to call home.  I am cleaning up after a satisfying, nutritious dinner and there are people starving who have no food at all.  I am clothed and others are naked. I can flip a switch and know the lights will come on and others live in the dark. I live in a free country and others are imprisoned. I have all the conveniences of modern day America – much more than most people in the world have – and I can still find things to complain about.  What gives me the right to complain about anything?

Pope Francis has a heart for the poor and has a gentle but persuasive way of challenging us to keep the poor in mind. Speaking for most of us, I think it’s hard to do.  We get wrapped up in our comfortable safe, secure lives and forget about those in third world countries who lack even the basic necessities of life. And, it’s often hard to fathom that so many people just beyond the boundaries of our neighborhoods are struggling.

The Pope challenges us to rethink our comfortable lives and look beyond our neighborhoods.  He said,  “These days there is a lot of poverty in the world, and that’s a scandal when we have so many riches and resources to give to everyone. We all have to think about how we can become a little poorer.”

I need to thank God everyday for all the many blessings in my life that I take for granted.  Instead of feeling sorry for myself because I don’t have something I want, I need to be thankful for everything I do have that I never asked for. Washing dishes with these thoughts in mind gives the task a whole new meaning.  Maybe buying that dishwasher needs to wait a few more weeks – it’s one small way I can contemplate ways to become a little poorer and a lot more grateful.

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