I helped my daughter move, my uncle died and now I’m back to my regular life, back in real time—that doesn’t stand still like when you are focused on a different kind of time and place. In between those life events just experienced, I realize that unlike my daughter and her husband who are just beginning their life together, most of my life is behind me. Yet I find myself pondering furniture purchases, cautiously contemplating knowing neighbors and wondering how our lives will unfold in this new place we live.
It seems like I would be more settled in at this stage of my life. So reading Luke’s gospel’s words caused me to consider the thickness of my self—and seemingly selfish—considerations.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens; they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse not barn, and yet God feeds them… And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? Luke 12:22-25
Consider the ravens and the lilies… the bottom line for me is do not keep striving or worrying – it doesn’t add to my life—it takes away.
At all the ages and stages I’ve been through, the same admonition—Do not be afraid… where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
That is what is deeper than any measure of time I’ve lived or stage of life I’m living into—fear – of what is next or how I’m doing or what is missing.
I continue to struggle to know that truth. Figuring out what I think I need in this house is consuming. The delicate balance between comfort and aesthetics is a challenge I kind of want to bridge. I opted to take down the custom made pink drapes in the living and dining rooms that were functional (and even elegant in their day) for bare windows for now. The ivory drapes I ordered will also be functional and look good (I hope). The trouble is these decisions aren’t simply made for my over-thinking self. They involve pondering, considering, striving, and even worrying. Now, getting new drapes isn’t a transgression in itself but the amount of personal investment I use to make this decision might be. Even though these are decisions to be made; as Jesus reminded folks before the “don’t worry” part, one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions, or even the color of those already hanging in the room.
So, in the midst of my dilemmas over curtains and paint and furniture, the actual Buechner’s words for today, July 8, in Listening to Your Life, were these…
I SHALL NOT WANT, the psalm says. Is that true? There are lots of things we go on wanting, go on lacking, whether we believe in God or not. They are not just material things like a new roof or a better paying job, but things like good health, things like happiness for our children, things like being understood and appreciated, like relief from pain, like some measure of inner peace not just for ourselves but for the people we love and for whom we pray. Believers and unbelievers alike we go on wanting plenty our whole lives through. We long for what never seems to come. We pray for what never seems to be clearly given. But when the psalm says, “I shall not want,” maybe it is speaking the utter truth anyhow. Maybe it means that if we keep our eyes open, if we keep our hearts and lives open, we will at least never be in want of the one thing we want more than anything else. Maybe it means that whatever else is withheld, the shepherd never withholds himself, and he is what we want more than anything else.
Watching and listening to the lightening, thunder, and steady rain from my front porch this evening, my focus shifted ever so slightly. What sustains life is not what might be hanging on the window but the vastness of the treasure that is beyond the window. If only I remember to look.