Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis is Vogue‘s style editor at large. She’s my age and has been in the position since 2012. She is also a member of a royal family. She posted a picture on her Instagram on Saturday from Paris and Fashion Week. The picture showed a homeless person reading a copy of the magazine with the caption, “Paris is full of surprises…and @voguemagazine readers even in unexpected corners!” You can find coverage of it here.
The irony in this situation could fill more than a single post and it shines a light on a deeper issue.
The news article I mentioned above calls out the contradiction of Fashion Week as a spectacle of consumption with the presence of the homeless population in and around the city. The contradiction of Paris is often played out in our own lives.
We all have reward mechanisms. Go long enough without rewarding yourself and the impulse will kick in. Some people go big and others go small. It can be good or bad, from a workout to a cigarette. Addicts hit their reward impulse without reservation and it can destroy their lives.
As people of faith, we struggle with delayed gratification. We tell ourselves that things will happen in God’s time, as we watch others get promotions, cars, vacations, etc.
The cycle can shift with a moment of recognition.
Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis saw her magazine and not the homeless person reading it. In my time researching and interviewing for my current project, I’ve had a chance to visit the front lines of charities and hear their stories. When you see someone crying over a pair of donated socks for their new baby, you understand that there are concerns deeper than yours.
You notice the person holding the magazine.
When you see every part of your community, you are inspired to do something about it. When you give, God’s time stops haunting your worries and starts driving you forward. You become a part of a greater movement.
Suddenly it all matters.