Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times writer, asks What Could You Live Without? after reading about a family who sold their house, bought a smaller one and gave the difference to charity:
Kevin Salwen, a writer and entrepreneur in Atlanta, was driving his 14-year-old daughter, Hannah, back from a sleepover in 2006. While waiting at a traffic light, they saw a black Mercedes coupe on one side and a homeless man begging for food on the other.
“Dad, if that man had a less nice car, that man there could have a meal,” Hannah protested. The light changed and they drove on, but Hannah was too young to be reasonable. She pestered her parents about inequity, insisting that she wanted to do something.
“What do you want to do?” her mom responded. “Sell our house?”
Warning! Never suggest a grand gesture to an idealistic teenager. Hannah seized upon the idea of selling the luxurious family home and donating half the proceeds to charity, while using the other half to buy a more modest replacement home.
Peace Bang writes along similar lines at her Beauty Tips for Ministers blog:
Someone wrote recently and said that last year, her Lenten discipline was to clean out her closet. She gave away a huge amount of clothing. I wonder if packing one suitcase — say the one suitcase you might, if you were lucky, be able to pack before clearing out before a natural disaster or a military coup or an invasion — and living out of its contents for forty days would be a powerful Lenten discipline that might give us a sense of enhanced compassion for the refugee, the outcast, the stranger.