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Friday, September 19, 2014

"We Didn't Know We Were Poor"

The young woman was finishing up her bi-weekly cleaning of my house last Wednesday. I had her initially when I was in a guest house here back in February. It had been a long time since I’d had household help and I saw what I’d been missing. Now I can’t imagine choosing to clean other people’s houses for a job. It’s not a favorite task for my own house. I didn’t say as much to her but she must have read my thoughts because she suddenly said, “I really love my work!” I was so impressed with her sincerity I asked her to come to my house when I moved in.

Last Wednesday we talked a little and it turns out we had quite similar childhoods in many ways although her home was in Mexico and mine in Minnesota. We both grew up on rural five acre plots of land without, at first, the modern amenities of indoor plumbing and electricity. When we’d finished laughing about all the things we had to do without she said exactly what I could have said, “But we were all so happy! We didn’t know we were poor. We even felt rich!”

That’s what a loving family and grateful hearts can do. Wanting more than we have can be a downer if it keeps us focused on lack instead of supply. That is probably one of the most basic problems in life, to think of humanity as the haves and have nots. Limitation, or the sense of it, can cause untold misery but what if limitation is merely a blindness to what is already available to us all universally?

 I remember the time when we’d moved to a house that didn’t have a dishwasher. Our former house had one and with our family of five I'd found it to be a great benefit. At the time my husband said, “We’ve just put out more than we’d planned for this house. A dishwasher will have to wait.”

Then one day I saw a full page glossy ad in a magazine for the exact dishwasher I’d hoped to have. It was the same canary yellow color as our refrigerator, same manufacturer, full size but portable on wheels so it didn’t need to be installed and we’d be able to take it with us when we’d be moving the next time. (Marines don’t stay anywhere very long.)

A friend of ours had once said, “Never say, ‘I want’ because you are at the same time saying, ‘I don’t have.’ If you keep saying, ‘I don’t have it’ you won’t have it. Say instead, ‘I have the idea of it; therefore I have the real part of it,' and most likely you’ll soon have the thing as well as the idea.” I remembered that, tore out the page with “my” new dishwasher on it and pinned it on the bulletin board in our kitchen. 

“Now I have my new dishwasher,” I said, and whenever I found myself wishing I had the real thing I’d say, "But I do have the idea, and that is the real thing.” Conceiving of things as thoughts may not be new, but we often forget. Ask any thinking person, and all agree that from a pencil to a skyscraper every thing begins with a thought. 

I did not hold my breath to see how or when I'd get a new dishwasher. In fact, I simply ceased wanting a dishwasher. I knew if I was to have one it would come sometime and, if not, so what? Washing dishes by hand, I thought how grateful I was for hot water and soap. 

Not long after that we had a friend from out of town over for dinner one evening. He was on a business trip and when we’d finished eating I looked at the table begging to be cleared off and said, “I have a new dishwasher but it doesn’t wash dishes yet.” 

“What kind of a dishwasher would you buy if you could?”

I replied, “It would be a portable canary yellow Fridgidaire. Want to see a picture of it?” 

He said, “I know exactly what it is. We’re putting Fridgidaire appliances in the new housing development I’m working on here. If you want, I can get you one for less than half of what you’d have to pay retail.” 

I looked at my husband opposite me. He was grinning broadly and I knew that I’d soon have the thing as well as the idea of a new dishwasher. And I did.

Of course, this principle has some built-in caveats such as, try to make it work for anything and everything and you’ll run into problems. Principle has many qualifications. Greed and selfishness would certainly throw a monkey wrench into the mix, but it can’t be wrong to declare for ourselves and others any right and needful thing. That must be what Jesus meant when he said, “Ask, and ye shall receive.” He also said we are meant to have a more abundant life, not a world's banquet of power, gold and goodies. 

Can’t we imagine how the realization of God’s impartial love could bring world peace? We all have the right to be happy and to emerge from self-imposed limitations. Unlimited good is for all, but we have to cherish the idea, the source, the proper use of good. Satisfying occupation, home, food, clothing, happiness, mercy, justice are all right ideas and belong to us all by gaining the true sense of things and accepting whatever we can use.  

Can I picture the idea of this? Can I cherish it? Can I pin it to the bulletin board in my heart? Well, if it can work for a dishwasher, I say why not let it work big time?

1 comment:

  1. Reminds me of the angels ascending and descending on the ladders in Josephs story...the angels being God's thoughts passing to man, and man responding by cherishing the idea of something before it takes tangible shape in the manifestation of good...assuming that the thought is worthy of a blessing, or the timing is right!