Jesus said, There was a rich person who had a great deal of money. He said, "I shall invest my money so that I may sow, reap, plant, and fill my storehouses with produce, that I may lack nothing." These were the things he was thinking in his heart, but that very night he died. Anyone here with two ears had better listen!
(Thomas, Logion 63)
My meditation period was punctuated repeatedly this morning by the cries of our tubby tabby, Sophie, who has a bladder infection and has been isolated in the downstairs bathroom to keep her from peeing all over the house. And when I rose from my chair it was to find our other big guy, Alex, studiously watching the fish in their newly protected tanks.
So this morning's readings and experiences seem to be all about our unfortunate tendency to want what we can't have -- and clearly we humans are not the only ones subject to that sort of longing. Alex has food in his dish, so it's not that he's hungry. But there is a determination in his gaze that leads me to believe he's not just playing with those fish, he WANTS them.
And Sophie has been provided with food (usually a prime motivator for her, now standing in her dish uneaten) and water, a comfy bed and a catbox, and still she cries to come out. It's not that she's desperate to be with us: she spends most of her days in hiding from Alex and the dog, who both adore her and seem to want to lick her incessantly. And she's terrified of us right now, because when we do manage to find her we're always stuffing her full of medications (she has an ear infection, too). So you would think she'd be grateful for her protected surroundings. But of course, they are unfamiliar, and she has no control over them, so she's not thrilled. And yet I'm not sure she'd be all that contented anywhere else, either -- and, of course, her illness is also making her uncomfortable.
But most everyone I know is pretty uncomfortable right now. We mostly all have what we need, for the moment, but no one is quite sure how long that will be true, or what sort of additional losses lie around the corner. We've been doing what that rich man in the gospel is planning for quite a while now, we Americans, but somehow all the produce in our storehouses seems to have dwindled in spite of our efforts -- or perhaps we've been so busy building those storehouses we've forgotten to fill them? And there is that scary thought, that without any financial cushion to speak of, a single natural disaster could blow over those storehouses, and there we would stand, exposed, hungry, and bereft of all our clever defenses and acquisitions.
So what will be left for us at that point? What will be left for you? Will there be family, friends, neighbors -- relationships in which we might find shelter? Will there be hope, or faith, or courage -- those elements that can keep us going when times are tough, which often flow out of a relationship with God? Or will we discover that our nest-building efforts have isolated us; that when the nest is gone there will be nothing left?
And, as my husband is fond of saying to our kids when they screw up, what have we learned from this?