Monday, March 21, 2011

The bitter bite of wanting

Photo by '28 misguided souls'
It devours me, this incredible, ever voracious beast of WANTING. I could blame it on a thousand things, the Barbie I never got for Christmas, the polyester thrift store clothing of my childhood, the college summer when I ate moldy bread and mashed potatoes made with soured milk because it wasn't pay day yet, the months fresh out on my own before a job when secret friends delivered sacks of groceries. My life is a sketch-book of never quite having the dream, always hovering on the edge of barely enough.

But I have claimed contentment, have BEEN content. I AM content. I have come to terms with thrift stores, I have embraced minimalism in my possessions, I have learned the beauty of simplicity. I have, in fact, chosen this life, stepped away from the rush and the money and the letters after my name and the stress that never ended to embrace all that I have right here in this house.

And yet...and yet...I drive past the large houses, those architectural dreams and I WANT, I WANT. Despite the knowing that I have all the space I need, despite my delight in my quiet street and my little garden, WANT growls like a beast deep inside me.

photo by Martin Heigan
I see the women in their beautiful clothing, sweaters swishing with lovely drape, patterns and color and texture, necklaces and bracelets and scarves placed just so and WANT stares out of my eyes.

My children beg for the latest toy and I know they don't need it, won't play with it for more than a week but I WANT for them a life of more and how can I say which path will free them from being devoured by their own beast of WANT?

I pray for contentment, I pray for WANT to go away and still it lingers, prowling and pouncing when I least expect it. I toss it lattes and chocolate bars, second helpings of dessert to try to pacify it, but still it growls and paces, digging claws into my heart.

I can tell you about the lilies of the field, the sparrows that God cares for. I can point to the thousand times my needs have been met in spite of circumstances. So why do I still struggle so with WANT?

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are is what the title on the book reads above a picture of two perfect eggs nested gently, held in grateful hands. I buy a copy because something draws me, something gentler than WANT. Live fully; how do I do that when I am devoured? I begin to read and am drawn in by the story of 'eucharisteo' and learning to give thanks, to reach out and actively receive what God has given us. Gifts in the ordinary moments of life.

I wonder, could this practice, this active acceptance and naming of blessings be the tool to defeat WANT? Would it slink away every time I gave thanks for that perfect pair of jeans found for $4.50 at the thrift store, for the first signs of spring in my garden, for the laughter of my children?

I start to write...

1. Socks knit for me by an almost-stranger, just because she wanted to do it.
2. Hazelnut coffee warm in my cup, made milky with farm fresh cream.
3. Bed-head boy's rooster-tail hair sprouting wildly from his head.
4. One thousand questions from the boy whose wordless years were deep heart-pain.
5. First robin of spring.
6. The rapid in-out breaths of small creatures.
7. Words, beautiful words, strung together in books waiting to be read.
8. Purple.
9. Indoor plants alive in spite of me, a study of green leaves in green ceramic.
10. Sunshine on my floor.
11. Little boy spinning up in the swing and unwind-flying.
12. First day of spring.
13. Sun-warmed arms.
14. Soap bubbles that drift from around the corner of the neighbor's house.

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