Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Recognizing wealth

Within the last month, I read something in a newspaper about education/schools, and the article mentioned the amount of household income for a family of four that qualifies the children to receive free/reduced meals at their school.  Given my lack of a paycheck at this point, our family income is right around that amount.  That made me think.

Today, I was half watching an episode of a favorite TV show that was addressing equal rights between men & women (the Equal Rights Act) while Audrey was climbing around and over me on the floor.  I looked at her sweet baby head and chubby limbs going non-stop and thought about the privileged life that she was born into by grace.  That made me think again.

In various ways, I've been wrestling this past month or so with contradictory illustrations of what constitutes wealth and poverty.  I find that context dictates the definition, of course, but degrees of wealth can co-exist with degrees of poverty.  I use these terms for lack of any other that signify what I mean while also knowing that neither of my examples truly illustrate how society defines "wealth" and "poverty," especially the latter. 

The importance of the issue for me lies completely within the unknown of my career and future.  It's a completely different issue to take some time away from your job and forsaking a paycheck for a finite amount of time, knowing that you will have a paycheck again beginning on X day rather than taking some time away from your job indefinitely.  And once my situation became no paycheck indefinitely, I freaked out a little.  I'm still a little on the freaking side of it all, I think.  Thank heavens for the boy who tempers my anxiety. 

I intrinsically know that "wealth" is evidenced in a variety of ways and is not something that can be pinpointed on a tangible wealth-poverty continuum.  But I am both learning and remembering how we enjoy wealth and what we believe it is.  In January, Abby and I put together a meal for a family that has become very important to ours.  They bought a new house and are feverishly working on it from the proverbial top to bottom.  This was our service project last month, to serve our friends and allow them to take a moment to enjoy their family amidst all of the chaos of the move.  The thank-you note we received from them was honest and sweet, and I love that feeling of how I had an abundance that I was able to share.  I know that I would like some more of that wealth. 

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