Do you remember the parable of the rich man with abundant stores? That was the gospel this morning. The illustrations from the Arch Bible Edition of it are etched in my mind. The pictures in those little paperbacks were boring black and whites with bits of orange or brown, because those were the cheap spot colors back in the day. In this one, I recall a foreground sketch of a fat man, slumped on a divan with a full feast around his lonely corpse. In the background grand silos of grain are stored. Too bad it will rot, for he is dead. On that night, his "very soul was required" of him.
I didn't see the 2x4-to-the-head-a-la-Tommy-Boy coming. It hit during my hubby's homily. He 'gotcha'ed the group by saying something was missing in the gospel reading and then re-read the gospel. What was this man's sin, he asks. Not storing or saving, not have abundance, but rather, lacking gratitude for the gift of his abundance, since it wasn't all his doing. He congratulates himself as though it is, but who can predict good seed, good conditions and good harvest? This man is hoarding all those goodies he thinks he earned on his own effort. He can now chillax and feast out for the rest of his days. He doesn't see the proverbial crows circling because he thinks he's got this one locked up. In truth, he lacks "a safe guard in his soul against the anxiety of grasping at one's possessions."
That's pretty much who my husband is sleeping with. It's holiday time and things have been pretty snug in our budget, for good and noble reasons. We've committed to no more debt and paying out. SO Christmas and entertaining are a cottage affair. Last night, I was listing gifts, listing ingredients and adding and subtracting against the remaining bank balance. It's healthy sign that I'm back to this math. There was a time there when I refused to do it. I'm an english teacher, Jim, not a mathematician.
Here I am, finagling finances in my head, all through pre-communion prayers. I'm batting off the thoughts during liturgy. I'm three times ready to walk out to the Narthex and burst into tears. Give us this day our daily bread... I am breathing. And a win at the lottery, or a miracle, where's Oprah when you need her? Dang it, he preaches and I think, once again, that I seem to have more faith in Oprah, or an Amazon give-away than the gifts that God has given in abundance. For pity's sake, my wallet may pinch now and then. Christmas may be pretty homemade this year, and certainly more modest, but I haven't the concerns of many I know. I ought to stop clinging to the hope that I'll be that darn rich guy. Finally, enough. When did any of us call 'enough' with our stores. We can be in the lap of luxury and find a way to accommodate more.
Tina Fey kicks butt on underscoring this point in Bossypants.
(Someone should do a study of the human brain and how quickly it can adjust to luxury. You could take a homeless person who has been living on the street for twenty year, and if you let them do three magazine photo shoots, by the fourth one they'd be saying, "Louboutins don't really work on me. Can I try the Roger Vivier?")
I have no idea what Louboutins or Roger Viviers are, but acclimation to luxury makes perfect sense.
It builds up some lovely walls around my heart. There are a lot of things I've convinced myself I cannot live without. Recently, I've learned I can go a few days without them. I'm guessing if required, I could last longer. So far, I should just be grateful that a little short term waiting is all that's asked of me. I have a job. We have warmth. A little delayed gratification never hurt anyone.
To ice this cake of learning, my fellow priest's wife posted this quote by CS Lewis.
I've had a sense for a while now that I've wrapped my heart in lots of hobbies and little luxuries. I'm still not sure why but I know it is producing an utter lack of love. It's masking the fears of life just dandy. I don't cry much any more, but neither do I laugh as much. My kids suffer in it. My husband is getting less and less of me. Now that I think of it, it's sickness, but isn't that what all sin is? Isn't that what the Great Physician is here for?
I'm not sure I should let this one fly, this blog I mean. But, I get the sense that getting better and loving come from the same source and didn't Lewis just admonish there that vulnerability is part of it.
So there it is, folks. It hurts just a bit. Pinches. Hope I can take the medicine before it hurts more.