Saturday, July 31, 2010

Vanity of Vanities, All is Vanity

From the Book of Ecclesiastes come these often-pondered words. What do they mean to me? When we worry about the things of this world to the point where we are distracted and restless, are we putting our faith in God? Something really stupid happened to me this week that caused me to lose my temper and be momentarily driven to distraction. My ticket to Heaven, otherwise known as my spouse, informed me nonchalantly that he had lost the keys to my car. Not recently, mind you, but some weeks ago, and he was just getting around now to letting me know. I lost my temper and shrieked at him in exasperation. It was the voice of a child that called me back to reality. "Don't sweat it, mom," my youngest told me "just say a prayer to St. Anthony to find them."

The keys turned up yesterday, but not before I fretted and fussed over what would happen if we couldn't find them, since they're the only spare set and we're leaving for the shore in a few days. Would it have been the end of the world not to find them? No, but you wouldn't know that by the way I reacted. Life is full of practicalities, and God knows this, but how silly did I appear in His eyes getting hysterical over car keys?

There is a Franciscan brother I know who has decided that the only possessions he will have in this world are the clothes he wears every day. He lives a much happier life than those of us who run ourselves into exhaustion trying to acquire the things this world tells us we need. Every night when I take my walk, I pass by two gentlemen who sit on the front steps, enjoying nothing more than each other's company and occasionally, a soda or pint of ice cream from the nearby corner store. Both are very religious men, one of whom is the sexton at a church where he begins every day unlocking the doors and lighting the candles on the altar and ends it by watering the flowers and sweeping the sidewalk. Simplicity of simplicities! A life dedicated to the service of Our Lord and free of the worries that are attached to the things of this world.

The path to holiness means not only giving up attachment to the meaningless possessions of the world, but also the attachment to selves that causes us to do things like shriek over a lost set of car keys. Lord Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary, have mercy on me, a sinner!

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