Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Extra Coat in Your Closet isn't Yours

I came across this quote that I think is super timely given we are knee-deep in Lent.

"When someone steals another's clothes, we call them a thief. 
Should we not give the same name to one who could clothe the naked and does not? 
The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry; the coat unused in your closet belongs to the one who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the one who has no shoes; the money which you hoard up belongs to the poor."   - St. Basil the Great

How many of us have a shirt in our closet we never wear, but are keeping "just in case"? 

A 10 year old jacket we hold on to for sentimental reasons?

A pair of pants we wear twice a year?  

Before reading that quote, I categorized the act of hanging onto those things as - at the worst - hoarding.  That the only victim was the hoarder, right?  The poor sentimental sap's only punishment was an overcrowded closet, yes?  

But St. Basil gave me a whole new perspective.  

Those things don't belong to us.  They belong to the poor that need them.  By keeping those items we are depriving the needy.

Instead of wearing that shirt once a year, someone else might wear it 52 times.  Those shoes we wear only when we find ourselves at a mud-filled sporting event might become someone's daily pair.  That jacket we hang onto "just because" might keep someone warm all winter.   

Our "just in cases" and "extras" are their necessities.  

(Michael disappears off screen, headed to his closet with bag in hand ....)


none said...

Being generous, letting go of excess, helps others as well as frees us. Enjoy your giving :) excellent post

Anonymous said...

This is an excellent post and a great reminder to us all. As for myself, I've always been struck how we all have so many shoes and clothes and yet we wear our favorites all the time and very seldom wear the rest. At least that was the case for me and my husband. There is so much all of us can do if we only put our minds to it. I hope you have a great week Michael! God bless!

Victor S E Moubarak said...

All right ... all right ... I'll take some more clothes to the Salvation Army collection center soon. I've already given ... I kept these because ... well ... more excuses ... OK ... I'll give some more soon.

Thanx Michael for pushing me into action.

God bless.

Daily Grace said...

They don't call St. Basil the "great" for nothing! His quote is powerful and your reflection is quite complimentary in relating it. Wonderful Michael

Michael said...

Jade, Carol, Victor, DG, Collen and Penny - thank so much for the comments. (And Penny, thanks for widgetizing me!)

wooden coat hangers said...

What a sweet and creative post!