Becoming rich, becoming poor.

Sunday night, we broke bread together. On the living room floor dotted with specks of pecan shells and bread crumbs, we had our third Poverty Meal. Our dinner: whole pecans in the shell foraged by Terrica in East Texas, and a loaf of whole wheat bread.

Bread and grains are not exactly a part of this 40 day cleanse. Yet, when we got two freshly baked loaves from the matriarch, Debbie, at Full Quiver Farm on Saturday morning, we began salivating. And rationalizing. Oh, just the thought of a hunk of that spongy bread slathered in fresh butter and jam. Soups, french toast, buttered sandwiches. C'mon, how could we resist? And it's homemade, right? It sounded like the ultimate indulgence.

And then we had an idea. What if we used the bread as dinner? Not as a "cheat" that we would gobble up wide-eyed, but as dinner for all of us, as the main course of our meal. And as we sat on the hard living room floor, passing around the ceramic platter and each pulling off our share, it didn't feel like an indulgence at all. It felt like sustenance.

It might sound silly, but it was good to experience the feeling of working for each small bite of pecan as we cracked the stubborn shells ourselves, littering the living room carpet, much to the delight of Greta and Heidi who were on our heels to devour the remnants.

These times that we spend on Sunday nights have become the richest part of my week. As we learn how to make our souls poor, I can see how each of us are changing. I feel more "rich" than ever - that I have everything I need, and not possessions. We might not have been born in poverty-stricken families - most of us grew up in suburbia, playing in the yard with our neighbor friends, being called in at 5:30pm to a hot supper. We haven't spent our childhood days playing beside open sewers in a slum or on a dirty city street. Most likely, our children won't either. But we are asking for compassion now, so we can be changed. We want to understand.

As the late summer sun set and the natural light in the room grew dim, we sat in lantern-light and candlelight, discussing our weeks and how this small meal on Sunday nights is somehow changing all of us, in small and big ways. And what are we doing to take action?

I had a revelation. It's our tendency to make comparisons: "Let's be honest - most of us in this room will never know what it's like to live in poverty." While it may be true, what purpose does it serve? To me, it only continues to breed a feeling of separation between us and those who live with that reality. Instead, what if we asked God, "Will you give us compassion to feel what they are feeling?" Here, we ask for a heart to somehow understand their world, and compassion moves us to action.

As we reflected on the purpose of these dinners and our greater purpose in the city of Dallas, TX, we found this blog that spoke it perfectly...

  • We share life
  • We break bread
  • We celebrate growth
  • We share our resources
  • We serve those in need
  • We challenge stagnancy
  • We pray fervently
  • We listen intently
  • We talk intentionally
  • We laugh uncontrollably
  • We cry unapologetically
  • We party regularly
  • We live authentically

What will be for dinner next Sunday? I have no idea. But I hope more people will gather with us and encourage each one of us to multiply our love and compassion for this city. And for the world.