top of page

I've Been a Beggar Most of My Life

Updated: Sep 26, 2022

It is a gift in the season of Thanksgiving to show up to wherever you are, with gratitude.

It makes all the small irritations fade into sweetness like marshmallows on a sweet potato casserole.

The simplest way to get to gratitude is to remember that we all came into this world as beggars. Beggars hold a sacred place in the life of faith. They are used to embody ephemeral qualities like gratitude, charity, and justice.

I have been a beggar most of my life. I see that as a positive, truly.

I think it is amazing to make a living asking people for money out of gratitude for the all the mercy they have known. In other words, I have the privilege of asking people to remember they are beggars who have received the charity of others.

It’s a hopeful way to live.

This Thanksgiving consider the gift of remembering the part of you that is a beggar too:

The part of you that came into this world naked and now has clothes.

The part of you that was thirty and now is sated. The part of you that was hungry and someone gave you clothes. The part of you that was sick and someone tended you. The part of you that was trapped and someone let you out. The part of you that was tender and someone treated you kindly.

I once saw a beggar on the steps at a cathedral in Cuenca, Ecuador. I remember the rhythm of the coins shaking in the tin can held in the blind woman’s hand, and the accompanying chant, “remember me.” Her voice and the tinny shaker were a haunting call to true worship.

Beyond the pink marble floors and gilded altars, her echoing voice was a call to remember:

What does it mean to love God and our neighbor as ourselves?

There is a story in the Gospels about when Jesus is questioned about letting a woman pour oils over him. He turns to his disciples and says, “the poor will always be with you.”

It took me years to realize that was a blessing, not a curse.

The poor will always be with you means we get to stay together, sharing our gifts with one another.

The poor will always be with you means that there is a place at the table for us, so that we can seek and be found.

The poor will always be with you means we can live with generous spirits in true fidelity.



bottom of page