Tuesday, January 10, 2012

All the Things That Really Matter

during the last several days, we've had a couple of catastrophes at our house. first, a hand-painted lamp that i gave my wife for christmas over thrity years ago was knocked over, and the upper shade was shattered. next, our son's little dog knocked over a brand new christmas gift and broke it. the startling thing for me was that i felt little emotional upheaval at these two accidents, though i was sorry that both items had been broken. perhaps, it is that advancing age causes me to put less stock in "things," but i believe that a subtle change has come in what i value. as i relfect back on the damage that was done, i discover that in the grand scheme of things, these material objects, though valuable from a sentimental point-of-view, are transitory. inevitably, these kinds of "treasures" are going to break, but we still have the memory of the whole object and the reasons that object was valuable to us, which has more to do with values that are seperate from the object itself.

i remember when i was around twelve, my younger brother and i were helping our mother clean up the living room. my brother, who was probably eight or nine, knocked over a plate and broke it. i can still see the hurt in my mother's eyes at its loss. she had few valuable pieces of home decor, and this plate was a beautiful family heirloom. my heart still aches because of the hurt she felt at its loss, but her love for my brother was stronger than any love she had for the plate. she didn't lash out at him in anger over his clumsiness, but simply sat and talked tearfully about the plate's origins, all the while hugging my distraught brother.

people are always more important that material possessions. the idea of a thing is always more valuable than the thing itself. we rejoice in the pleasure a material object brings us, and when it is gone, we are reminded of the transitory nature of life. all things change, and we must learn to value what is truly important. my prayer for each of us this day is that we love life itself and share that love with others, remember that even life is transitory, and all too soon the life we are living will come to an end. when it does, we will pass into another existence that will reflect what we valued most during the life we lost.

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