Easter is a time to face the tough subjects

Published 9:34 am Monday, March 25, 2013

Column: Something About Nothing, by Julie Seedorf

It is Holy Week for people who are preparing to celebrate their church’s Easter traditions. Usually in a column this week, I focus on the Easter Bunny, Easter clothes and try it make it fun and light-hearted, but a few things have been put in my path this week that have affected me, and I wanted to share them with you during this special week.

During the Christmas season, the Salvation Army bell ringers are out and about raising money for donations. Groups are raising money for Christmas presents and Christmas dinners for the needy. We focus on the Christmas holiday season, but I haven’t seen much of that during the anticipation of the Easter holiday.

Julie Seedorf

Julie Seedorf

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A week or so ago I happened to be in Albert Lea driving near Walmart. It was a cold, snowy, wintry, blustery day. The wind was blowing hard. There was a person on the side of the road with a sign asking for donations so that he could buy food and lodging. I was like the wind that day, I blew by. In guilt I wondered who I could have called. Was there an agency that would help him? Days later I did ask someone what would have been the proper procedure to help the person by the side of the road.

That man had an effect on my life in many ways. We are not used to seeing people on the side of the road asking for food and lodging. It is not an everyday occurrence in our area. In examining my feelings as to why I blew by, I knew I did not stop out of fear and suspicion. Would he attack someone? Was it real or was it a scam? I expect other people felt the same way because not many were stopping. It did bother me that I didn’t do something, but then again, that fear and suspicion raised its head.

In bigger cities, I especially remember a trip to Chicago, panhandlers are asking for a handout all the time. When we were there we were told to ignore them. In that case they are being ignored, not out of fear but out of comfort. They are always there, they are always asking, so people ignore them. I suspect that happens in our larger cities all the time. People are so used to the homeless on the streets that they are ignored and people go about their business as usual.

I was reading a book titled “I Shall Not Want,” a mystery by Debbie Viguie. In the book the main character was having a conversation with a homeless man she knew. He said to her, “The more uncomfortable a homeless person makes someone, the less they look at him.”

I read that after seeing the man on the corner. I feel that statement is true, if I really had looked at that person I would have had to stop, but because it made me uncomfortable, I could not describe him had someone asked. I averted my eyes. Walking the streets of Chicago, I did not look at the panhandlers. They made me uncomfortable, and by not looking I could ignore them.

My next experience came on Facebook. I have been following a man by the name of Monte Bernardo. I don’t know Monte personally, but I have been following his story.

Monte was injured in Afghanistan on July 4, 2012. He lost both of his legs and one of his hands. His journey has been long, but this man has remarkable courage. It brought a face to what some of our servicemen are going through once they come home.

But what hit me in the face and reinforced the idea that those we have fighting overseas have become another statistic in our newspaper and another news story that we glance over unless we are directly affected is a post by Monte the other night. He asked for prayers for Team Derek’s family.

Derek was another wounded warrior at Walter Reed Military Medical Center where Monte is. He died March 18.

Derek, too, was severely injured, on July 3, 2011. I started reading the blogs by his loved ones and reading about Derek’s progress. He was soon to be released from Walter Reed, from what I could understand from the blog.

Reading his story and Monte’s story jars me out of my complacency. We think the wars are winding down, but for many of our servicemen and their families, the effects will be forever with them. Because they are not forefront in our lives every day, we forget they are still struggling and need our support and help.

What does this have to do with Easter? I recently took part in a conversation about the movie that is on television called “The Bible.” People were remarking how graphic it is and do we need those images. The crucifixion of Christ would have been graphic and deaths in war are graphic.

Homelessness is graphic. Losing limbs and war injuries are graphic. Maybe we do need the down and dirty, the nitty and gritty and the graphic reminder to shake us out of our denial, to shake us out of our comfort zone, to shock us so much that we feel the need to do something.

In the midst of the Easter bunny and colored eggs and feel-good stories that keep us afloat it is the perfect time to move out of our comfort zone and learn more about those in need.

Sacrifice is never easy. Many choose to give things up for Lent. That is a choice we make. There are many that give things up because they don’t have a choice. The rest of us maybe can give up a little to those who have no choice. Those small pieces of ourselves that we give to others may help a lot. It might be a kind word, a letter or a conversation about tough subjects that will make a difference in this Easter season. Take the time to be a little uncomfortable. That choice may move mountains for someone.


Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at thecolumn@bevcomm.net.