Sunday Morning Musings: Not only because of the Labour Day holiday at the first of this past week, but with the starting of school, for me this week started out shorter than most. I didn’t make my first appearance in my office until Wednesday, and for me that is two whole days later than usual. Now, it is important that you realize that I am not complaining, rather I want to speak of the lesson I appreciated learning about values.
Besides the unusual start time for my work week, I was also involved in other activities both work and non-work related (if anything one does in ministry is not work related!). Again, it was not the fact that these out-of-the-ordinary situations happened, rather it is the teaching about myself that I was able to garner from them.
Without going into detail about the specific events, I want to focus on the sense of what I have found as being of real value in my life. Many would say that my work is my life – and in some sense that is true. For years and decades I have put work first, even to the detriment of my family and myself. Yet, what this reveals to me is that I have really valued myself before others. I have valued wanting others to think highly of me, and even more that I am seen as doing “right” in the eyes of God. Part of me thinks that I have been trying to “win” forgiveness for not being good enough.
The poet, Muriel Rukseyer, has been quoted as saying, “The universe is made of stories and not atoms”. Of course, what I think she is talking about is that our stories about those things made up of atoms are what makes everything valuable. The National Post (a Canadian media source, for my non-Canadian friends) reported on an experiment where seemingly frivolous objects were given to story writers and poets who were to write about their object. In the end it was discovered that an object purchased for pennies became more valuable (worth more money) when written about. This exercise seemingly made true Rukseyer’s comment about stories and atoms.
So it is that the stories that surround our lives can and do increase the value of them. And, I believe, teaches us the real value of everything as well as teaching us to ask ourselves about the things in life that we really value. Yet, it is the elements of life that we really value that do not come with a price, or do they? Can we put a price on integrity? On courage? On wisdom? I believe we can and we do. C.S. Lewis is quoted saying “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.… Pilate was merciful till it became risky.”
When push comes to shove we have to decide on what is most important in our lives. In a previous Musings I mentioned the idea of “the prosperity gospel” that tells us that if we want to be prosperous we need to be more faithful. But what do we mean as prosperous and are we willing to risk it to be compassion, because the two don’t often go together when we speak solely in terms of dollars and cents. Am I willing to lose or let go of everything that others might have the basics? Am I willing to stand in the face of criticism and let my voice be heard?
Boy, I ask myself some tough questions.