“The Riches of the Poor”

woman with parasol
The Riches of the Poor

In the midst of their calamity, they managed to smile. There was an unexplainable calm and peace upon their faces as they fell patiently in line, awaiting their turn to receive water, rice and canned goods.  There was no noise, no panic, nor distress.

They had little to start with, and the little they had, they lost.  They lived in palm-roofed huts that were blown away, and now they huddle under tents of tarpaulin held up by wooden planks. When the rains revisit at night, the fathers and mothers sit in the rain, while their little ones sleep under the sparse canopies.  Help has been slow to arrive. Meek as sheep, they do not grumble. They wait.

A woman who stepped on a nail while braving the typhoon, walked many miles under scorching heat to where relief goods were distributed.  Her foot throbbed with pain as she approached my daughter and me, and she held out her parasol to shield us from the sun.  Other women joined us and offered their parasols as well. They told us they had little to eat, and when the relief supplies run out, they will share what remains with each other. Their sun-parched, emaciated faces somehow reflected an inner joy.

At that moment, I recognized the palpable wealth of the poor: they who possess little do not own the onerous burden of the “cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in” 1.  I felt the light-hearted freedom in their hearts, the natural sensitivity to gravitate towards gratitude, as the flowers of the field blossom, facing the sun.

As the nail that pierced the woman with the parasol, so has her countenance, along with the many other tranquil faces around her, wounded and scarred my heart forever, that noonday under the sun.

“Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which He has promised to those who love Him?” James 2:5 ESV

D. G. Vachal © 2013

1 Mark 4:19

*** Photography courtesy of Amy Lynn Vachal

28 thoughts on ““The Riches of the Poor”

    • Dearest Heidi, thank you for bringing to mind Isaiah 58 … truly the fast that the Lord has chosen for us includes sharing our bread with the hungry, to bring to our house the poor who are cast out, and to clothe the naked”. Yes, may our Christian love be measurable by our deeds towards our fellowmen.

  1. I’ve been following this tragedy via TV and internet. Singapore now has a relief team on site and with not an unsubstantial amount of monetary help. Not enough, I’m sure but the collection boxes here are continue to remain open.

    The people who held the parasols for you and your daughter – it’s amazing and educational that people with so little – give so much.

    Peace and blessings,

    • The Philippine people are overwhelmed by the response of aid from all over the world, and truly thankful for Singapore’s relief efforts. Yes, you said it succinctly, Eric. People with so little give so much.

      Peace and blessings,

  2. This is beautiful, Dee. Indeed, when we are without the burdens of wealth, we find comfort in our smallness, in the meakness of merely being loved. When we have nothing, that is when we realize the greatest of all the gifts we have to offer………. Love to you and these people (your children). ~ Bobbie

  3. Beautifully written. Their destitute situation, yet having such a humbled spirit is like those in the scripture passage of Christ’s beatitudes, the one in particular that applies here; “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. 5:3

  4. I remember when a high school counselor asked, “Who has parents who make under (x amount)? If you do, then you’re considered poverty.” I didn’t raise my hand. I hadn’t know at that point that I was in poverty. I consider poverty a condition of the heart – not the pocketbook. I was rich in family, faith – and love. That currency goes much further than gold. Thank you for this story – for this story of richness in the midst of crisis and loss.

    • Your words resonate with me, that “Poverty is a condition of the heart, not the pocketbook”. Praise God that you were raised, and have a family that is rich in faith and love. I hear the depths of truth in your words, that that currency goes much further than gold. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, and for visiting my blog. Blessings to you.

  5. What is there to say that isn’t mixed with salt that rolls down into our very souls at such horrific pain! God be their strength and comfort as we seek to do His works. Blessings dear. Happy Thanksgiving ~in his joy. Faithfully Debbie

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