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November 15, 2007

Fixing our Wanters

Every time I wake and find that I am suffering from …the unsettling feeling that I have everything that I want and so little of what I need, I go to the mountains, wade a fine stream, fly fish until there is only the pure feeling of honest exhaustion and a light in the sky like that of a bed of embers…
-Harry Middleton

I love mountains and streams and fishing for trout but the thing about that quote that gets my attention the most is the part of the sentence that says “the unsettling feeling that I have everything I want and so little of what I need.” Most of us have big “wanters.” That is not to say that we don’t also have real needs, but it is easy to get caught up in wanting. Last fall in chapel I talked about how we become consumed with perishable things like iPods, PDA’s, cell phones, Tivos and the like. My daughter pointed out to me that I have all those things. I do, and quite frankly I sometimes feel overwhelmed by all the “stuff” that has become a part of my daily life.

There is nothing inherently wrong with having things as long as we keep it in perspective. Things are made for us to enjoy and to make our lives comfortable and more productive. It is important to remember however that we are not made for the purpose of having things.

It is easy for our senses to become deadened to life around us. Not too long ago, at the height of the color of the fall leaves I realized that I had hardly taken the time to notice. When I did I saw a glorious fall that had unfolded before me when I was deep in thought about other things. I heard a story once about a Boy Scout leader who would take his troop on silent hikes and encourage them just to notice what was all around them. He would tell them, “Stop wearing a raincoat in the shower.” Sometimes the background noise of our lives keeps us from encountering God. We have plenty that we want but not what we really need.

Thanksgiving provides an opporunity to think about the power of gratitude. It gives us the opportunity to restore our seeing and hearing and feeling of the richness of life around us. It gets us to focus on our needs, and to fix our wanters.