Father Mark, Reflections

What do we want?

The lyrics from a not so pleasant tune, in a blast from the past came to my memory: So tell me what you want, what you really really want…. These words left me with a question: How much of the time do I know what I want, what I really really want? Ever ask yourself this question? Do we really know what we want? How do we really know what we want?

The reason I asked the last question is that often I am not aware of things: myself, others and God as much as I would want to think I am. The words above, I just noticed in our Good Shepherd window. My eye is drawn to the image of Jesus the Good Shepherd, so much so that I was blind to the words of David (Psalm 23) above it: “I shall not want.” We can put so much emphasis on “want-ing” that the whole idea of not want-ing or not being in want never enters our minds.

Want only dissolves into contentment when we experience a sense of abundance, which is is what David in Psalm 23 is attempting to get across to us. The abundant grass and water available allow the sheep to “lie down” content rather to wander in want. I observe ranchers’ faces after a good rain that greens and grows the grass and the tension in their faces relaxes as they are able to metaphorically rest with their livestock, content, knowing that their needs are cared for.

How is abundance defined in our day and age? How much of what does it take to give us a sense of abundance? David gives us an expected hint. In verse 4 of Psalm 23, David gives the definition of abundance: “You are with me.” Of course he follows with practical needs: a rod and staff are given for protection from enemies, a table set before him with enough to eat and olive oil to bathe with and moisten the dry hair. God’s abundance of goodness and kindness pursues David. David is content. No iPhone, no TV, no computer (that’s a no brainer), no mall. He doesn’t even mention chocolate! David is content.

Below the Good Shepherd window are the words, Given to the Glory of God in Thanksgiving August 14, 1945. Britons, Canadians and Americans experienced years of rationing from a depression, which continued into World War II. If there was sense of scarcity during that time it dissolved into an ebullient sense of abundance manifested on that VJ Day when Japan had unconditionally surrendered, ending the nightmare of World War II. My parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles were under depression like rationing and they felt the Abundance of God, even after post war rationing continued. I am humbled–perhaps even ashamed when I wonder where this COVID escapade is going to end up. It’s nothing like my parents and grandparents went through. It’s nothing like David went through.

Maybe we need to return to the center point of David’s understanding of how abundance is defined: “You are with me.” Maybe this is enough. Jesus thought so. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness (right relationship). And all these things will be added unto you.” Abundance is a matter of the heart, eye and the mind–seeing, perceiving and experiencing Who is really here in our midst–in front of us, and has been with us all the time.

I will ask my heart this evening: “Does abundance live in me?” I invite you to do the same.

In abundance,

Fr. Mark