Stuffed bird, empty heart
My mission was to pick up a few apples at the grocery store. How hard could this be?
If you don’t know, the male double-helix shopping code is to “get in and get out without any complication.” So I thought this was going to be an easy assignment.
But little did I realize I would be faced with such a variety. Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Rome Beauty, McIntosh, Fuji, Gala, Jonagold. There were yellow, green, red, and even multi-colored varieties. Where would I start? I felt a vortex of indecision swirling around me. My breathing got shallow and I almost bailed on the assignment. But then I would have to come up with an elaborate story involving a police chase or a gas leak or swarm of birds winging through the aisles.
I finally made a choice, but the experience still weighed on me as I drove home. I considered the intricate weave of choice, abundance and blessing. It was amplified by the stories the next Sunday from the high-schoolers from church who just returned from a real mission trip to Mexico.
Thanks for nothing
They arrived at the small, poor village in identical new vans. Suburban teenagers in crisp jeans with white ear buds dangling from their pockets soon realized what poverty looked like. Their job was to help build homes. Considering the villagers lived in crude shacks built of scrap sheet metal or reinforced refrigerator boxes, the pre-fab huts were a big improvement. Still, not one of these teens would ever have to live in something so simple.
One girl spoke about the experience and was most impressed at how utterly satisfied these people were. She told us about the worship experience in the village church. The prayers were filled with the word “gracias,” uttered dozens of times.
“Over and again these people thanked God and never bothered asking him for more. They had nothing, but they thanked him for everything,” she recounted.
Stuffed bird, empty heart
I think about those villagers, and others in my life, who are struggling to make a living, clawing their way through everyday existence. Why are they so abundant in good spirits, praise, and joy? And why are the rest of us so . . . needy?
This time of year we tend to give praise for our bounty. The plump, plucked turkey and mounds of potatoes are dolloped with ample reminders to give thanks for God’s blessing. And we should always be
grateful. But to be honest, I don’t always do so well in the land of plenty. In my richest days I’m also the most self-indulgent. In fact, all of this abundance of goods might not be best for me.
Equating abundance with blessing is deceptive. Just because I can buy Aloe-infused bath tissues or honey-dipped crackers doesn’t mean I’m blessed by God. Standing in a world surrounded by choice isn’t really all that it’s cracked up to be.
I am much more blessed when I have simplicity. When I clamor for mystery and relish the uncertainty, I take the first steps into the Promised Land. And there I find an abundance of blessing.
Still, I never want to take anything for granted.
Pass the apple pie.