Sunday, November 27, 2016

Possessed by Possessions

Advent is here again, already, so soon. It is hard to concentrate on a season of waiting when we are so busy that each week seems to pass as quickly as a day. The city streets were congested today with shoppers rushing about to snap up Black Friday weekend deals. 

We went for a walk in the woods and even though the dog became mired in a muddy bog shortly after this picture was taken, nature was nurturing and relaxing. 

I am not buying or receiving Christmas gifts this year and it was liberating to make that decision. I want to focus on spending unhurried time with people, over a meal, at a seasonal event, outdoors or indoors, without the obligation of gift-giving and reciprocation. There is nothing wrong with gifts. I just prefer to spread the giving over the year, spontaneously or when there is a need. 

I participated in a November minimalism challenge where you get rid of one item on the 1st of the month, two on the second, three on the third and so on. By the end of the month over 400 items should be gone from your home. I had no problem finding things to give or throw away. Sadly, it is not readily evident that I have completed the challenge as we still have so many belongings. I need to do this for a year! The effort required to look after so many “things” is time consuming and tiring. 

Jesus’ life on earth was not about accumulating possessions but rather, nurturing meaningful relationships with God and others. In a parable he warned about possessing more than we need.

Luke 12:16-21

Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’
“Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

My goal to let go of sentimental attachments to things in order to live with greater simplicity, thus freeing up time and energy to build rich relationships with others. I lifted this meme from my aunt's Facebook page because it is so true!

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Looking for Hope and a Future

We enjoyed Indian summer with several days of unseasonable warmth and clear skies this November. I watched the sun rise this morning, red and bright. The sky was on fire and late autumn leaves glowed in the low light. 

When it is evening, you say, "It will be fair weather; for the sky is red.
"And in the morning, "It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening."

And sure enough, a cold front approached in the afternoon with rain and cooler temperatures.

The leaves fall quickly now, crunching underfoot as I walk, covering the ground where they will shrivel and disintegrate.  I smell the dampness and mold that rots and hastens their return to the soil.

This is death. 

But I am not sad, for these leaves cover new life that will spring forth after the long, cold winter. There is a time of waiting, but the woods will once again be green and fruitful. 

Nations rise and fall. Good leaders and bad leaders have their season of influence. Sometimes it looks like hope has died but it will rise again when winter is over. These trees have seen many seasons, perhaps 100, 200 or more, some good and some bad. A season of dying always comes before the season of new growth. Winter is coming, but we have hope for better things in the future.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, 
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, 
plans to give you hope and a future. 

Then you will call on me and 
come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 

You will seek me and find me 
when you seek me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)