From the Rector…
A billion dollars. What would you do if you won a billion dollars? People were asking that on Facebook last week. Talking about it at the proverbial “water cooler” at work. Dreaming about what they would buy, the charities they would support, how much they would give to family members, how much they would invest. It’s fun to consider all the things one might do with a billion dollars—and I especially appreciate all those who reached out to me to let me know CoA would benefit if they won the lottery—but, alas, so few of us ever win a billion dollars.
I know I am of a significantly minority opinion—even in my own household (you should see the dog’s mouths start watering when they realized how many pumpkin cookies they could buy with that kind of dough)—but I’m not convinced I actually want to win the lottery. Sure, I could do all kinds of things with the money—pay off the house and any other debts, buy those pink shoes, set up a philanthropy or two, remodel all the bathrooms at CoA, invest for the future, fly first class for the rest of my life—but I also know that with greater possession comes greater responsibility which means more concern, worry, and focus on my money. I have enough to worry about now—I really don’t want anything more to have to worry about.
The more stuff we own, the more time and attention it requires of our lives. Instead of finding ourselves more connected to creation, others, even God; we find ourselves managing schedules, paying bills, tending to maintenance issues, worrying about what we have, its condition, and whether or not we can hold on to it. The less we have, the less worry we have to commit too.
Sometimes that worry and trouble brings you greater happiness. We have four dogs, probably two to many. Our vet bill has doubled, as has the food bill, and expenses for other doggy-related items like treats, toys, and clothing. We’ve even bought safety harnesses for safer transport, not to mention the new SUV we had to buy in order to fit everyone into the car. But for all that worry and trouble, our lives (Steve’s, mine, and the older dogs) have been filled with a renewed joy and vitality since we added the basset puppies to our family last February.
I don’t regret the addition of the puppies—quite the opposite! But I am keenly aware of the extra worry they have caused. It’s not simply the expense, it is also that someone (usually me) has to come home at lunchtime everyday to let them out of their kennels for a little while. If we are going somewhere, we have to consider how long we will be gone, whether or not our absence will interrupt feeding time, and can the puppies keep from going to the bathroom for that long. There is extra laundry and household cleaning like vacuuming to deal with the increased dog hair. Not to mention the significant amount of time spent training puppies. It is worth it because the puppies give back to us an unconditional love that flows from them to us and back again to them in a great circle of connection and relationship. Not everything I own does that for me.
There is another reason I really don’t want to win the lottery; I know that deep down the lottery really won’t satiate my deepest longings but only increase my desire for more. The more we get, the more we want. It is part of our broken nature. That consistent longing for more reflects a cultural standard that is truly unhealthy. Instead of finding satisfaction with what we have and offering gratitude for the abundance that God has provided us, we seek always for more. Our satisfaction is not found in the gaining of worldly goods but in the deep interconnected relationship of love that draws us to one another and God. As long as there are lotteries and television commercials and all the other things in our culture telling us we don’t have enough or what we do have isn’t good enough, we will find ourselves continually distracted from the real joy and satisfactions of God.
I don’t want to win the lottery, but I’ll admit I did buy a few tickets. Fortunately, none of them panned out.
Light and Life,