An Experience of Begging

Maureen Ray

Many of you already know that Madonna House lives by begging. Yes, everything each of our houses owns and uses has either come to us through donation or was bought by donated money.

It’s a very concrete way of living in dependence on God. If what we need is not given to us, we cannot continue to exist. And the fact is that none of our houses has ever had to close for lack of material necessities. So we learn over and over that God does provide.

This is especially in my awareness these days, as we have recently moved to a new house, which means that we need some things that we don’t have. I have been writing begging letters and sometimes going personally to beg, especially since we are trying to get work done on the house before winter sets in.

Needless to say, this is challenging, and at times it is disheartening when there’s no response. But then there are times when people do respond generously. Here is one story.

We finally found a place which we staff can use once a week for poustinias. However, there was no bed available; we would need to beg for one, or, failing that, buy one very cheaply.

I found a bed frame at the Salvation Army, but a mattress and box spring were more challenging.

Armed with our information, I went to various stores. One fellow laughed when I asked if he had something under $200, or would he consider donating it. He came up with a foam mattress and box spring for $199 and said if I could find something cheaper, then he’d give it to me for free.

With that, I went to several other stores. They were all very kind but said that I had to go to their head office for this type of request. My last stop that day was a second-hand store, but the manager wasn’t in, and I would have to return the next day.

So the next morning, I did. The manager was at a meeting; could I wait a few minutes? A “few minutes” turned into half an hour. As I was waiting, knowing full well that the meeting had ended, I said to myself, “Well, the poor have to wait. Why shouldn’t I?”

I approached the clerk, who was very apologetic, and the manager was found. No, she couldn’t authorize this, but if I went to the main office, they could help.

So off I went. Again I had to wait, and when I did see the woman in charge, she said they no longer give mattresses, but she would check and let me know. I thanked her and said I was also asking at other stores.

As I was driving around to the stores, I passed a Tim Horton’s (a chain coffee shop), and I really wanted to stop and get a cappuccino. I could taste it. It didn’t feel right, but still I had this desire for just one cup.

As I was ruminating about this cup of coffee, I heard in my heart, How can you spend $3.00 on a cup of coffee when you are going to stores and begging for a mattress?

It was too incongruous and such a bourgeois thing. I just could not justify it, and so I continued to drive on to the next store.

At that store, I spoke to a lovely young man, who seemed to have heard about Madonna House before. I told him of our need and gave him the necessary information. He said he’d see what he could do for us.

As I was leaving, I asked his name and realized that he was the son-in-law of one of the home schooling mothers we know.

He then told me he had helped us before. Really? I didn’t know. So home I went, calling it a day.

Later that afternoon, we received an email from this young man saying that he would like to donate the mattress and box spring himself! Wow! I felt that God had honored my not buying a coffee—and a cappuccino at that!

Friends helped us pick them up, and we ended up setting up the room in time for Sandy to go into poustinia the following week.

We now take turns going on Thursdays, and people give us intentions to pray for while we are there.

God really does take care of us.