Perhaps the first act of living a temperate, balanced life is to realize that you need most of what you have; the love of a family, the love of friends, food, shelter, comforts, this church. As we approach a season filled with consumption from things to food, ask yourself what do you really need? I will admit I ask myself this question all the time and it’s not easy to answer. Certainly I don’t need seconds of anything, from food to cars. We live with one car between us; it helps to focus your life and plans. We think about the food that goes into our bodies, it helps create justice for those poor of nutrition and spirit. We think about what we buy, almost always for someone else. We have all we need and then some. There is a distinction to be made though between having enough for your family and having enough for a community. Because a community is made up of people who need as much as they want and giving generously allows the community to respond to real needs such as shelter, health and spirit.
The harder part is needing what you don’t want. None of us wants to get sick but it teaches. It teaches all of us. I had a little reminder of this last week. It had been a full weekend. Frances and I were looking forward to getting home. As we were packing our bags and preparing to leave for the Denver airport, I felt a sudden twinge in my back. No, I thought. Not this. I know this. Within minutes my back was in spasms. Painful spasms. The kind that wrap all the way around your rib cage and with each contraction take your breath away. I laid down on the hotel bed. Now what? How was I going to drive in a car, manage a bus, get through security? There is nothing like pain to sharpen your options. Frances found some painkillers. She drove to the airport. She arranged for a wheelchair. She carried all the bags. She got me home. I laid there for two days. I realized that while I didn’t need the pain, the pain needed to teach me a lesson. To let go, to let God, or at least to let Frances do what she was always capable of doing. None of us is completely alone. Even those who travel alone, have kind strangers to help them along the way.
May we learn to truly want what we truly need,
With Grace and Grit, John