Monday, 10 September 2012

Chocolate Money and Charity

A slurring old man on Courtenay Place wearing a yellow and black jacket asked me if I had any coins to spare. I lied and told him I didn’t often carry cash with me. It was a half truth; I don’t often carry cash, but I did just make a withdrawal from the ATM up the road and had a wad full of twenty dollar notes in my wallet.
It was the second time that morning that I’d been asked for money. The first time was by a young guy at the Civic Centre wearing a red and black jacket. He gave me the spiel about all the great work Red Cross do with disaster relief and asked me to sign up. I told him I thought Red Cross did do wonderful work but that I couldn’t commit to making regular donations. It was the truth; I couldn’t commit, partly because I was already making regular donations to another charity, but mostly I couldn’t commit because I didn’t want to.
The thing is; I probably could give Red Cross my money. But it would just be money, I wouldn’t be investing anything of myself into the work they do with the disadvantaged.
It’s the same with the old guy; I could have dished out some cash. But what he needs and what I need is not for me to give money, but give myself – I need to invest myself with him. I think that’s what it means to care for the poor. That is much more taxing though, and much more terrifying. It involves stopping and slowing down and spending time with people. It involves wearing someone else’s shoes, and they might feel funny on my feet. It involves taking heed to the advice of To Kill a Mocking Bird’s, Atticus Finch, and climbing into someone else’s skin and walking around a while. It involves more than money. It involves me.
Then I met Ronak for lunch and he gave me two chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil. I liked spending time with him. I’d like to spend more time with him.
I’d like to spend more time with the poor too. I’d like us to eat chocolate, and to listen to each other’s tales, and to take a walk together. I’d like that. I’d like to commit to that. I’d like to invest in that.
I’d like to be generous with myself.
I know someone else who’s like that.


  1. Who is the someone else who's like that? Great story about people in Wellington who ask for money.

    1. Hi Ronak, I'm talking about Jesus. He does stuff like that. I'm looking forward to being back in Wellington later in the year, maybe I'll buy that guy on courtenay place a cup of coffee - if I'm brave enough.