stuff

This past Sunday, my dearest friend, Tim Veney died. Since then, my nearly hourly musings have been flooded with fondest remembrances of him and, far more than usual, ruminations about my mortality and death. (Around the time I turned 50, I gave up my childhood-long notion that I was immortal, and then began to contemplate daily, not morbidly, but rather honestly, my aging and its inevitable end.)

Today, I’m thinking about stuff. Things. Earthly treasure.

Though I don’t think I have an overabundance of stuff, I do confess I have less than I sometimes want and far more than I ever need.

And looking at the 2015 revenues of the five largest self-storage operators in the United States, totaling $4.184 billion, clearly a lot of us have more stuff than our homes can hold!

And I remember when my father died and later when we moved my mother from the home they had lived in since March 1952, one of our primary tasks was emptying the house of their veritable mountains of stuff, much of it time-worn and outdated or broken and inoperable.

And the words of Jesus come to mind:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.[1]

and…

Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?”[2]

I suppose that Jesus counsels we not worry about our lives because he knows we do. As mortals who dwell in time and space, we necessarily are concerned about material matters of the flesh, like our health, and our creature comforts, our stuff. I also suspect that Jesus bids we not worry as a way of advising that we not cling to our things and surely that we not find our self-worth and much less our salvation in them. Even more, his imperative word, “Strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well,”[3] is his prescription for his diagnosis of our dis-ease of worry. The cure for care about many things is to care for one thing – God’s kingdom and right relationship with God.

Tim

Tim, like all of us, had stuff, things, earthly treasure. Yet he also possessed (or was possessed by!) a joyousness of heart and a blithe buoyancy of spirit. Traveling through this life lightly, his stuff never defined him. Therefore, for me, Tim was a model of kingdom-living and I want to be like him.

 

Footnotes:

[1] Matthew 6.19-21

[2] Matthew 6.25-31

[3] Matthew 6.33

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4 thoughts on “stuff

  1. Paul,

    Tim sounds like one of those “great trees” Maya Angelou wrote about. I wish I could have known him. I’m so glad for those of you who had him in your lives as family and friend. May he continue to bless and inform your days with an abiding spirit of joyousness that shines through and beyond your grief.

    Love,

    Karen

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yea, verily, Karen, Tim was a “great tree.” I trust that his light, illumining our memories, will “continue to bless and inform (our) days.” I thank you for that prayerful wish.

      And I, too, know the experience of hearing of a beloved one who has died and who I did not know and wishing I had.

      Love,
      Paul

      Like

  2. Paul,

    Last night I woke up in a cold sweat very concerned about all our “stuff” in our house. How I am gonna get everything packed up?? What am I going to keep so that I cherish his memory?? I’ve realized since Tim’s death that I too have too much stuff!!!!

    It scares me now!! I want to just toss all my stuff today but I know that’s just my grief talking. I’ll try to do things sensibly with both my head and my heart!!

    Thanks for writing twice about Our Tim, cause YEP I shared him with you, Pontheolla and so many others. God knows that he shared all his amazing “inner stuff” himself, with everyone he met!!

    I’ve yet to be able to write a long pieces about our almost 31 years of married life together so I’m grateful that you’ve already been able to put your eloquent words together and captured him perfectly!! Tim and I love you, always and I know you’ll be walking this grief journey with me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hand in hand, heart to heart, yes, Pontheolla and I will walk, ARE walking with you through grief – yours and ours.

      As for your grief talking, yes, at moments in our lives like this, of the death of beloved Tim, sorrow can lead us to making drastic decisions. So, my dearest sister, you are wise to know that and resist that impulse.

      And thank you for considering my words eloquent and for having captured the spirit of Tim. You honor me and I am grateful.

      Love

      Like

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