My grandmother – Ruth – would occasionally speak of the Great Depression – an agonizing time when unemployment skyrocketed and nearly everyone had financial problems. She said that periodically there would be a knock at the door. And a man would be standing there wearing coat and tie – with his “hat in hand.” Or it might be a lady in a dress. “Ma’am, I’m just wondering if you have any food that you can spare.”
My grandparents did not have much. But they went to Church every Sunday and they believed in charity — however small. My grandfather – Frank – volunteered his time and scarce dollars to the venerable Pacific Garden Mission in downtown Chicago while my grandmother was busy raising three children. But Grandma said that she would always answer that knock on the door. She would tell the stranger to wait. She would go to the kitchen, take a slice of bread and smear it with butter. Then sprinkle it with sugar. She would put it in a paper bag with an apple (if she had any) and give it to the grateful stranger.
We are going through unprecedented times. Many economists say that we are entering a recession. Some say it could be worse. . . . Regardless of our means, I tend to think that each one of us will be receiving a “knock on the door.” Whether from a charitable or religious organization, a family member or from a stranger. The question is – will we answer the door. . . . ?