The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase, and, in the meantime, all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.”

Pope Francis


I have always thought that being an owner of a motel would be a very difficult life.  Dealing with the public is never easy since you are dealing with people from many diverse backgrounds, as well as situations that can often be dire.  Having to evict people, even families because the motel to survive financially must cause many landlords some deep suffering.  Situations arise where there is really no good answer. 

So I would think that many landlords have to steel themselves, perhaps even shut down, if they are running an establishment that is dealing with people and families who are just trying to survive and living from paycheck to paycheck.  Evicting people like that must be especially hard. 

With the ongoing pandemic, how does a landlord deal with this situation?  I know one who is revealing a deeply compassionate side that I never saw before.  Not that he has ever led me to think that he did not have compassion, but the current challenge is bringing this dimension of his character come to the fore.

Some of the families in his motel live in one room; they are hard workers who are trying to start over again.  Some of them have had their hours cut and can’t pay the rent.  He does not want to evict them since he knows how hard it is to get a job if they have no permanent address. 

This landlord is working with me and a few others to help these people.  He is paying the rent for some of the families, or part of it, so they still have money left over after essential expenses.  He is losing money, but he can’t bring himself to evict them.  Even with help from those he knows, he still pays only half of what he is owed. 

I’m impressed by his empathy for the plight of those who live there.  I’m worried, however, if this keeps up, those of us who are helping may have to stop.  We have no money coming in at this time.  I pray that the pandemic ends soon, or at least that we can find a way to get people back to work. 

He is not a pushover.  He has grown up in the motel business with his mother, and both of them know when they actually need to evict, call the cops, etc.  I have a deep respect for the mother. Her son has told me that in the past she has allowed others to take advantage of her, which is another issue landlords have to deal with.

Working with the landlord and his mother has made me wonder, once again,  what life is all about.  Is it about making a lot of money — which is not bad —  or having a big house, a big car, or being famous? Again, none of those things is bad in itself. What happens when we have everything we ever wanted? Scriptures, of course for Christians is a good place to start.  Also, I have been reading up on Near-Death-Experiences for years. I believe that they help us understand why we are here.  

Here is a statement about the meaning of life according to some who have experienced an NDE:

“Love is God and loving others and everything is all that really matters. Everything else, our achievements and material wealth, is totally irrelevant. The important thing is to love people, nature, animals, and everything in creation. Whether people realize it or not, love is what we seek and need to sustain us. Although love is too immense and profound to be fully known in one lifetime, without love we are nothing. To love everyone as ourselves, we must love ourselves else our love for others is false. It is impossible to be really happy if we only have love for ourselves. Until we give attention to others, we will not be able to grow spiritually. Our choice is between the spirit of God (self-love, love for others) and the spirit of self (selfishness, love only for self). By conquering the self, we can change and grow easily, and know ourselves to be ourselves, yet one with the Whole. When we do unto others, we do unto ourselves.”

The statement above is broadly expressed.  Those who have NDEs come back with a different idea of what life is about.  I believe that what the landlord is doing, points to that reality in one small way.  He probably does not even realize the good he is doing, he just cares enough to want to help. The Gospel of Matthew 25:31-46 speaks of loving and helping those who cannot repay.  This is a way of showing love to the ones we help, on some deep level, it is Christ Jesus who is being ministered to.  Such is his connection with all of us.  The poor, the imprisoned, the hungry, unwashed, and overlooked.  When we love those who are ‘other’, we do not objectify them, but see, them as real, other persons.

I’m grateful this compassionate landlord is teaching me something important about being truly human and having a deep connection with God.