First, a very happy and blessed Mother’s Day to all our Moms! Motherhood is a career founded in selfless, ceaseless, love; fulfilled not without patience and God’s grace.
I’d like to focus on another spring theme this month:
Is that something you’re able to accomplish to the extent you desire? I seem to have grand intentions, but often fall short of my lofty goals. What is it that makes us cling to “things?” The past few weeks, I’ve looked around and thought, “what if life were simpler? More stuff means more to manage and care for. How would it feel to live in one of those tiny houses? Or perhaps, a studio cottage on a quiet lake shore?” Seriously!
I recognize, intellectually and emotionally, that the things which bring me the greatest happiness aren’t on shelves or in closets. Instead, they are the living things in my home: family members, furry four-legged companions, and the rose bush that desperately tries to bloom despite all odds. (My black thumb, the pesky beetles, hungry deer, and burrowing chipmunks have all doomed it to a meager existence.)
Let’s pause for a moment to think about the gadgets we fancy and the objects we desire to get, have, achieve, acquire, or be known for… yes, all those “things” …
I’d like to reference the parable of the Prodigal son with a different vision. Ponder how, at one time or other, most of us are tempted to turn away from home, from caring parents, and seek what we believe is more rewarding or entertaining out there somewhere across this vast planet. We crave experiences and possessions. Often, eventually (timing is different for each individual) we find the same answer: there is nothing better “out there”. We begin to seek a more simple, settled, and familial existence.
So, what lasts? What is worthwhile in the end? Does that list include the baubles and trinkets that surround us? Further consider, as the prodigal son: what inheritance do we desire? A financial award that may pass onto us, or the love, values, and wisdom we receive from our parents, guardians, and mentors?
Let’s continue to wonder... what if we were to let go of more belongings? There is something to be said for clean, fresh air -- both outdoors and inside the space we occupy. Theologians proclaim that sin causes us to move away from God; we have little argument there. However, they go on to suggest that the devil tempts us to covet more things; hmm… is that true too? Perhaps. The evil one calls to our unconscious like mythological sirens, luring us toward the mirage of wealth through possession. Like with the prodigal son, we leave our familiar home, setting out to conquer the world, attain abundance, and procure “stuff” we can claim as our own. These prophets further attest that we eventually discover most things are empty. The joy they bring just doesn’t last; it can’t. They’re not what our soul truly needs. The good feelings these things provide are indeed temporary. We are left wanting the next thing (the bigger house, nicer car, better job, etc.)
I can think of several movies and songs with messages that proclaim true riches by contrasting long-lasting happiness of princes versus paupers. These stories remind us that true treasure is not found in possessions, but rather in love, memories, and a richness of purpose.
One of the more fun examples I can offer comes from a recently viewed sitcom called “Last Man Standing.” In this episode, one of three sisters was having a garage sale. She enlisted the help of her younger sister who is more able to “let go” of things - aka - old junk. The young sister wonderfully rid the yard of the family’s old, no-longer-needed possessions, until a person handed her a teddy bear. The young sister was horrified that her older sister would discard the bear she’d given her as comfort during a challenging time in her life, along with great love and meaning. The older sister couldn’t recall the bear, but once she deciphered what her younger sister was upset about, she opened her wallet. Pulling out a tattered scrap of what remained from the note delivered with that same teddy bear, she read it with tears in her eyes. The bear itself hadn’t held meaning for her. It was the sentiment she kept emotionally in her heart and the small physical expression she’d kept in her wallet. The memory, not the thing is what had counted.
Like with the prodigal son, once the illusion wears off, we find ourselves alone and empty, even spiritually hungry. What happens then? Well in many ways, we look to return home, to the Father -- our Father. Maybe we return to place our trust in Him, allowing Him to guide us according to His plan. When we surrender earthly attachments, He rejoices! He embraces us, welcoming us with deep and true love. He celebrates our life with Him. Relieved too, our joy overflows in the peace, freedom and lightness that trusting God can bring. With our desires focused on what really matters, we find happiness that lasts. Unlike the acquisition of stuff, where pleasure eventually fades, in giving up clutter we discover new things, which bring deeper, enduring gratification.
So let those of us who need to, learn to let go and be free of all that junk! Free to have more space, fresher air, and less desire for attachments that leave us empty and longing for more.
Peace be with each of you today and all through the year.
The Parable of the Lost Son. Then he said, “A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’ So the father divided the property between them. After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation. When he had freely spent everything, a famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine. And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any. Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’ So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ Then the celebration began…
Lillian Corrigan uses writing to learn, inspire and encourage both others and herself. No stranger to devastating, life-altering hardship and loss, she's begun working as a motivational author.