Saturday, January 1, 2011

Bare necessities of life

"Look for the bare necessities
The simple bare necessities
Forget about your worries and your strife...
The bare necessities of life will come to you"

I am pondering the world according to Baloo. The bare necessities of life. Simplicity. I am looking forward to that in Honduras. The question is, do I know how to do that? Can I differentiate between bare necessities and "ohmygosh, i just have to have that?" I think it will take some time to figure it out. Already I find myself wanting less and not taking advantage of after Christmas sales. I mean, what would I do with that GORGEOUS cashmere sweater that is just $xx and is a whopping xx% off? It is too hot in Honduras and, I believe, clothes that require dry cleaning don't meet the test of bare necessities.

I think back to one of my first visits to Cristo Redentor Episcopal Church in Teguci. Connie, the Honduran priest, was preaching about the Gospel lesson appointed for the day like all good Episcopal priests. It happened that the text was the parable about Lazarus the beggar and the rich man. (Luke 16:19-31) The rich man is in hell looking up at the beggar he ignored while on earth. The beggar, of course is in heaven. The rich man is begging Lazarus to put a drop of water on his tongue to quench his agony.

Suzy was translating the sermon as a courtesy to us from the US. Suddenly, Connie started reading the Hondurans the riot act! (She had written the sermon for her flock, not with the N. Americans in mind. We just happened to be there.) She told them they were not taking good enough care of the poor! It took all my strength not to jump up and exclaim, "You ARE the poor!"  I was flabbergasted.  I settled myself down very quickly and listened.  Connie was chastising them for all the time, energy and money the parishioners wasted each month.  The more she talked, the smaller and more ashamed I felt.  "Thank heavens she can't see my house.  The food we throw away.  That there are more TVs than people in my house."  The Hondurans were equally chastened.   One very small but symbolic thing I did when I got home was stop getting manicures.  Now I take a nail clipper to my nails and cut them down to the quick.  Every time I look at my nails I am reminded of Connie's sermon.

So, what do I expect from this move to simplicity and bare necessities?  Sacrifice?  Not really, if we are honest.  No, instead I expect joy and peace.  The same thing I saw among the Hondurans that Sunday.  They have little material goods but overflow with joy.  Jesus is clear, caring for the poor is a bare necessity of life.

I urge you to find something small and symbolic to give up, something that isn't a bare necessity.  Maybe it is one visit to Starbuck's a week or bypassing that movie ticket - wait for it to come out on DVD.  Take that money and send it to LAMB (or a charity of your choice) instead.   Find some joy in the bare necessities of life!