Thursday, November 12, 2015
Thoughtful About . . . Things
I have two shoeboxes sitting in my living room, waiting for next week when I'll drop them off at a local church, and they'll begin their long journey to children in need. Children who, so the websites say, may never have gotten a gift before. Children who have never celebrated Christmas, not in a way we'd recognize.
All the advice I read said to gear those boxes toward specific things. Things like flashlights and batteries. A shirt. Candy (that won't melt). A toy--but no stuffed animals, as those terrify young children in many of the countries the shoeboxes go to, and are boring to the kids old enough not to be scared. Things like toothbrushes and combs and ponytail holders.
These are the things that will delight these children.
I look around my house, and I see so many things. And I realize anew how blessed we are in this country . . . and how the blessing has turned to the norm. And how the norm is not only taken for granted, but turned into something that can be used against us. Because we get so hung up on things. We spend so much time, effort, and money on them. We think that's what makes holidays bright, what makes our kids happy, what we have to give to each other to prove our affection.
I look at all the things . . . and I wonder. I wonder at this world we live in.
My kids don't have to fear wild animals--so they can call them cute and ask for toys that show them with big eyes and baby faces.
My kids don't know what it means to go hungry--so candy is no rare thing.
My kids have so many toys they can lose one and not even notice.
My kids have so many clothes that one shirt means next to nothing to them.
My kids have never had to brush their teeth or wash their hair at a river.
My kids may have wants, but they have no real needs.
We're blessed. Yes. Absolutely. And we're also, in so many ways, blinded to some key truths. I'm not sure any of us really understand what things mean anymore. They're not often special. They're easily replaced.
Yet they're still our language.
I look at the things in my house, and I think about the difference between survival and luxury. And suddenly I can understand a little better the clerics of old who took a vow of poverty.
Because things are so loud. And the voice of God is so soft.
Which one are we listening to throughout our day?