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What thoughts come to your mind when you think of those who are impoverished? Hopelessness? Powerlessness? Low self-esteem? Needing acceptance? I look at my list of words and think about those without shelter or food.

As I pondered this, I started thinking beyond the basics. Poverty reaches every segment of society, even the well-to-do. There are needs for acceptance, empowerment, and hope. Do I have these needs met? Do you?

"Community" is often spoken of now-a-days. It is something we all long for. Many of those who have little material possessions become rich in community because they depend on each other. Many of them share their shelter, their blankets and their food. They relate to one another as they go from shelter to shelter. They talk and listen to one another. We have poverty in our nice neighborhoods. Needs are met. There is self-sufficiency, but there is poverty in relationships and community. What's the answer?

"Knowledge of self and a purpose for living" is a chunk of wealth we all need. Through the good and bad of every day, every one has something to offer....him or herself...and work to do. In order to live life in its fullness, it is important to know our purpose. This extends to wellness of body, mind, and soul. Poverty. What is the answer?

"Spiritual intimacy" is much needed and longed for. Many don't even want to acknowledge that need. When God is not recognized in our lives, we can consider ourselves in poverty. Even more than that there is no hope, no future, no joy. Just guilt and fear. Poverty. What's the answer?

I do art with those who are in need materially. This opportunity for self-expression is a needed addition to having food and clothing and shelters to what they have in ways we can't always see or measure. Their thoughts and talents and expression is valued. We ALL have a lot to say. It can be said through art, music, poetry, or face to face in a heart-felt interchange. This is what makes us feel worthy and gives us dignity. We want to be seriously heard.

No person is smart enough to fix poverty. We are too fragmented as a society. Let's acknowledge every person encountered with a smile, and if needed a listening ear. Recognize the worth of every living creature.

Know Jesus. There's tensions and dire needs in this world. He's the only way.