Tuesday, May 10, 2011

2 and a half pages of excuses

 I am still working on the piece I started in reaction to my pastors sermon on Sunday but here is something I wrote a few years ago that is in the same vein.
Two and a Half Pages of Excuses
If money were no object I would live in house that fit my family with closets and a kitchen big enough for a table. The floors would be even. No longer would the arrangement of the furniture depend on whether it would be too lopsided to be comfortable. We wouldn’t worry about whether or not that chair is too heavy for that weak spot in the floor. The floors would be finished and polished with the proper cleansers and wax. There would be no particle board trap door to the cellar.
In the bedrooms we could use all 4 walls without worrying that the plaster will give way. The clothes would hang neatly in closets and belongings stored neatly on those shelves. The bats wouldn’t find holes to come in at night and bite the youngest daughter’s toes. If money were no object, there would be more children in my house. Children whose medical conditions are too much for their parents. Children whose parents never should have been parents. Children who just want to be loved and safe.
The ceiling would not have those water spots, I mean lines. We wouldn’t wake up after a rainstorm to find that the covering on the old chimney has come loose, leaking into the kitchen, depositing half of the wall onto the counter.
If money were no object, I would fix my children breakfast every morning before I drove them to school. Their lunches would be fresh and healthy. There would be fresh baked goods and fruit for after school snacks. The pantry would have rows and rows of jars of fruits and vegetables picked straight from our garden and orchards and canned at the peak of freshness. My husband would spend hours planning and tending all the fruits and vegetables he has ever wanted. I would eat those fruits and vegetables knowing that if my tooth crumbled in an apple I could go to the dentist to have it repaired.
Each morning I would gather eggs from our chickens and feed them and the cows and goats. I would take meat from the freezer for that evenings’ supper. I would not pick up dollar cheeseburgers on the way home from work because they are fast and cheap. I would not look for more and more ways to make a pound of hamburger and a box of macaroni feed 7 people.
If money were no object I would have a writing room all my own. My books would come out of boxes and fill two walls of shelves. Eventually I would need more shelves. There would be a comfortable chairs and a couch for long meaningful conversations and quiet hours of reading.
If money were no object, I would have an indoor pool to do the aquatic exercise my rheumatologist insists I must do to ease the pain in my joints and to lose the weight he insists I must also do.
If money were no object, my family and I would learn about different countries and cultures by experiencing them first hand. They would see the wonders of the world and the children who must beg to survive.
I wrote the previous pages after I saw a segment of the show “CMT Cribs”. I cannot remember which celebrities’ home was being shown, I think it was a race car driver. What stands out in my mind is the man’s wife as she listed the features of her beautiful state of the art kitchen. She then proudly announced “I don’t know what half of it does, I never cook.”
I was so angered by the statement that I wrote the piece and included it in my Senior Capstone Writing course proposal of short “life” pieces.
My professor said "This piece is spare and sincere and conveys the problems of living in poverty without self pity. I don't know if I could write this objectively. I don't recommend changing this one. I think it is perfect as it is and its compact form speaks loudly as is."
I was thrilled. My pride was all puffed up at my perfection. And then the rest of the semester rushed by and with it a million other projects and graduation. The piece was tucked away in a file and forgotten as I threw myself into preparing to teach a class of 5th and 6th graders.
One day when I probably should have been doing something productive I was scrolling through my computer reading things I had written over the years. Some made me laugh, some made me cry. This one made me think.
As I read I recognized that what I had written was two and a half pages of excuses. If I want to serve needy children there are far too many right here in the town I live in.
When this realization hit me I immediately thought of all the parables in which Jesus talks about being a good and faithful servant. Not once does He say “Serve me if you have money.” The message in so many passages, Matthew 20:1-16, Matthew 25:14-30, Luke 16:10-15, to name a few is clearly to do what you can with what you have.
What I struggle with most, I think, is doing what I am told. I want to do what I want, when I want. Just like a spoiled child, I stomp and cry and sometimes yell trying to convince God my way is best. How foolish is that? Just as I make decisions based on what is best for my children, God has my life planned perfectly.
My job is to do as I am told. Luke 17:7-10 says “Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, “Come along now and sit down to eat’? Would he not rather say, “Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink”? Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.”
May it ever be so.  

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