Sunday, January 18, 2009

Close to home

I am feeling an uneasy sadness today that is hard to put my finger on. 

 This morning we went to church. As part of the ceremony we have candles of communion;  where we share joys and concerns with the rest of our community.  I lit a candle for the 90 folks who are going to lose their job in the next week at a local factory.  Another woman lit a candle for her son who just lost his job.  Another woman; a single mother of 2, said she lost her job 6 weeks ago and has 35 dollars to her name.  

The service was sponsored by the Social Justice Committee.  There was a brunch afterward to help raise funds for the church's emergency heating fuel fund.  The fund was able to give 100 gallons of heating fuel to folks in need last year.  This year, we are only able to give 50 gallons; with the hope that these folks in need can get LIHEAP heating assistance. 

I left the house this morning with a bag of non- perishable foods and outgrown sweaters and hats for the food cupboard at church.  Our fund for the food cupboard is empty and we rely on donations ,only, now.

All of this hits close to home.  It is not just that the headlines report another half MILLION jobs lost in December or that billions of dollars are getting sucked up in the black whole of banks' balance sheets.   It is the small stories of how this financial crisis hits closer to home. 

My memories as a child in the seventies during the hard recessions was of standing in line at the surplus food stores.  My mom saved green stamps.  I remember waiting for her to be seen at the welfare office.  We bought our clothes at the Goodwill.  My grandmother made some of our clothes.   But I was young and these experiences had no context.  As a kid I thought that was just the way the adult world worked.  

Later on in the early 90's when the recession hit Maine, there were hard times.  Downtown Portland became the picture of many downtowns.  Empty Storefronts.  But my economic situation was stable.  I had a minimum wage job. I was poor but living with roommates.  Everyone I knew was in the same boat but we always had a few dollars for beer and our look was retro thrift store. We worked in restaurants so we could be fed for free.  

Tech bubble burst.  No problem.  I was struggling but for my own reasons that had nothing to do with Sun Micro Systems or that Dude with the Dell.

These times are different.  My husband is a public employee.  He is a teacher.  This past week the one school that provides our health insurance said that not only have they frozen the budget;but, although they promise jobs for next school year, there will be no promise for the year after.  Another school is trying to avoid mid-year layoffs this  school year.

We grow our garden.  We stock our pantry.  We look after our neighbors in any way we can.  There but for the grace of god (dess)....


Anonymous said...

These are scary times we live in.. I was an adult raising a family during all the times you mentioned but for some reason I can't help but wonder if this crisis isn't going to be much worse then all of them put together. I keep remembering what God said about the end times and so much of it fits the picture.. all we can do is trust in Him and help each other as much as we can.

Wendy said...

I think things would be scarier for me if I hadn't seen it coming and hadn't been preparing myself, mentally, for the past two years. There have been people out there who've been predicting an economic collapse, and who are now saying that it's only going to get worse. I'm glad I listened to them, because I'd be terrified right now, if I hadn't :).

Kathy said...

It is a tough and scary time right now -- I can still only imagine the food rations and lines for sugar that my mother spoke of through the years. I can still only imagine 11 children without shoes except in winter and the only fruit they had was their Christmas orange and apple.

But like you, I worry how deep and how long this economic crisis (heck with nice words like recession) is going to last.

We do what we can for whom we can as best we can, but know that we need to watch out for us as well.

I am hopeful that the new Washington Regime will at the least, be able to conjure up some assistance for all of us, and at the most, be able to make true, permanent, positive change.

Keep the faith. Trust in God(dess)

Anonymous said...

I don't think you are alone in your feelings, I too feel something about the times today. Not fear, for my family is ok and like so many others I have been getting ready and have seen it slowly getting worse the past couple of years. I am making plans to carry us through the next few years.

I haven't much hope in the new folks in Washington, they don't strike me as being any closer to the people that the family that moved out today. When I see them understanding the need to put a garden in I might take notice. Until then I'm not holding my breath but growing my own garden and trying to help those who need me now.

I do what I can for my community but must care for my own family first.

Like you I remember those times you mentioned and am about the same age and so they too had the same impact on me. I think now we are at an age it's up to us with our own children looking to us thats the scarry part...

Stick to what you know and keep working at it, our faith will help.