There are times when an idea takes root… when you are least expecting it. Here is the story and what has been born from it. For several years we have had a book group and have read some amazing books. In January we started a new book with some of the original folks and some new folks have joined with us as well. The book we are reading by Sr. Joan Chittister titled A Passion For Life is a collection of short biographies of different people who have impacted us throughout history.
Two weeks ago, we read about the biblical figure Hagar. She is known as the mother of Islam because of the birth of her son Ismael. I am not going into the story; however, she is paramount to what I am about to share with you.
Chittister writes: Hagar is the foreigner, the outcast woman, the lowest of the low… Hagar is the saint of hope and the icon of certainty. She gives us all a new way to look at the world around us, with its classes and laws and absolutes.
So, as we do in this group, we open for sharing and contribute to the discussion what the message is saying to us. What came forth was that several of us carried the shame of being pregnant and unmarried in our youth. The conversation then went on and we concluded that it is no different today: Women are still being shamed and put down as inferior.
And here is where what I am about to share with you was born. Someone in the group asked if we were aware that women who are houseless, most likely have no money, or those on food stamps (now known as the SNAP program) cannot purchase sanitary pads, tampons, or feminine products using the benefit of SNAP. (These products were omitted from the tax-free list determined in HR 3424.) You can imagine how appalled we were… so hence came forth Hagar’s Well.
Several from the group reached out to women’s shelters and confirmed this was true. So… we are asking for donations to be brought to Unity (we will take monetary donations as well) and we will distribute them to as many local area shelters or food pantries as we can, depending on what we receive. We will be dedicating the month of March to this project; however, it isn’t just a one-month endeavor.
This new project is right in line with the series I am sharing with you on Sunday mornings from the Dalai Lama. The week was the Ethic of Compassion and the Ethic of Suffering. I shared the following, and you can see Hagar’s Group is about compassion.
Sympathy looks in and says, “I’m sorry.”
Compassion goes in and says, “I’m with you.”
Sympathy looks in and says, “I would like to help.”
Compassion goes in and says, “I am here to help.”
Sympathy says, “I wish I could carry your burden.”
Compassion says, “Cast your burden on me.”
Sympathy often irritates with many words.
Compassion helps and hears in quietness and understanding.
— Author Unknown
If you couldn’t join us on Sunday, you can watch the service here.
Next Sunday will be the “Need for Discernment and Universal Responsibility.”
You are a blessing in my life,
Rev. Patricia Bessey