Father Dave told a story this weekend of a very philanthropic man who died and was at the Pearly Gates, and St. Peter started reviewing his life, and began to frown. He asked the man, who had done many charitable works, lived a good life, "Where are the nail holes? Where did you feel your neighbor's pain? Where did you help to heal the hurt in your community?"
Father hit the proverbial "nail" on the head with that parable! I think we, as a society, placate ourselves by donating - mostly during the winter holidays - and saying "My $5 helped someone in need." But when do we really, truly open ourselves to share in the dark times too?
Every day at work I see people at their very worst. It's hard. Sometimes I'm the only person who gives them 2 hours of my time to listen to their story. But those nail holes, they are right there. Mental illness. Physical disabilities, Poor, destitute, no where to turn. The hardest times are when people are truly mentally ill, and either extremely violent, or self-destructive. Their physical scars do not compare to the scars in their soul, the hurt, the pain, that feeds the cycle of destruction.
Where are your nail holes? I'm not saying every person needs to go out and find the lowest point and start from there, but just listen. Sometimes it's as easy as talking with the person in line with you. Sometimes it's a little more. Be safe about it, but be present in the lives of others. Help to take care of their hurt, and be receptive if someone offers to help you with yours.