Wednesday, October 21, 2015

"Send money!"

A long time ago Alice Walker recorded a short story about an illiterate mother who received a letter from her daughter who was away in college. I looked for it online, but was unable to find it. So I will attempt to write it out here - but I must share two disclaimers first.

1- I heard her tell this story in a recording. I have never read it.

2- I heard it many years ago, so this is a rough and inaccurate retelling of the story.
Hopefully, you will get the point...

Well, here goes.


After she received the letter from her beloved child, the mother, who missed her daughter terribly, took the letter to a neighbor and asked her to read it. The neighbor read the angry, demanding letter - "Mom! School is good! The weather is cold here! I need to buy a coat! Send money!!!"

In a huff, the wounded mother snatched the letter from her neighbor's hand and stormed back to her house, thinking, "I will show that ungrateful child who to treat me better. I'm not going to send her any money. How dare she talk to me that way?"

A few days later, she decided she wanted to reread the letter and took it to the neighbor who lived on the other side of her. This neighbor read an altogether different letter, a gentle, kind, and solicitous letter. "Mom, school is good. The weather is cold here. I need to buy a coat. Send money."

The mother nodded her head, took the letter, tenderly folded it and slid it back into the envelope. She looked at her neighbor and responded dreamily, "If she had said it that way the first time, I would have sent her the money."


I love that story. I love the lesson of how tone of voice matters. I love that the mother wanted to hear the letter again, to read it again, to give her beloved daughter another opportunity to speak to her. And it gave that loving mother the chance to bless, protect, and provide for her daughter by sending her the money she needed for a winter coat.

Sometimes we receive requests for money and other forms of help that are shrill and self-serving. Sometimes they are demanding and insulting. Sometimes they are all about making you feel guilty. Sometimes the requests are meant to flatter you at first and then manipulate you into doing something you might not otherwise consider doing.

At other times, those appeals are thoughtful, joyful, hopeful, grateful, touching, tender, and easy to respond to in a generous way. Sometimes those requests strike a chord, ring a bell, touch a nerve - and eventually move me beyond my usual string of cliches and leave me almost speechless. Almost. Sometimes we are so profoundly affected by the way a story is told, by the way an appeal is made, that we are moved to love, to get involved, and to give generously.

Today is one of those days.
Today is a Love Flash Mob day over at Momastery's blog.
It is a beautiful story about beautiful people in need of our help.
We get to help. We get to give. We get to make a difference in many, many lives.

Here is the link to this love letter asking you to "Send Money."

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