"Having a blog is like wandering around your house naked with the windows open; it's all very liberating until someone looks in the window. However, while being caught unawares is one thing, it is quite another to stroll up to the window and press your naked, flabby body against the coolness of the glass in a hideous form of vertical prostration for all the world to see..." These posts are the smudges that are left behind on the window.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Share the Pig

Once again Richard Rohr strikes. I was reading through the Daily Meditations. It happened to encompass a series of quotes from, Letting Go: A Spirituality of Subtraction. The  first thing I read was about was Too Much Access, and how we have too many gadgets to make our life simpler and give us more free time, even though it seems to have the opposite affect. He ends the section with a quote from Pope John Paul II, "In a culture of affluence you will predictably see a decrease in spiritual values: time, knowledge, wisdom, love and friendship. Those decrease almost in mathematical proportion as you move toward materialism."

The second story is about a wealthy family that lives very simply. Instead of spending all their money on the things that you or I might, they live simple lives and give away the rest. One of the interesting things they do, is that each month the mom gathers up the six kids and she writes out cheques to all the people that need it. With each cheque she explains who is getting the money and why they need it more than they do.

The next story is called Share The Pig. This is the abridged version; [In talking about third world countries] As soon as you come to the village, in a very short time you will hear the squeal of a pig or the squawk of  a chicken. They're killing it for you. They've been saving it for you. And sometimes you find out that it was the last pig or chicken. The poor are so generous... ...after you're finished eating with the people who were originally invited to the meal, there's lots left over. What would we do in our country? We have Tupperware and refrigerators. To save it would be the good, responsible thing to do... ...Here's the perfect example of how technology has a good side and a bad side. The Guatemalans have to immediately share the pig [they have no refrigerators]. Bringing food from one house to the next, which creates family, is a daily experience. It creates community and interdependence... ...The poor have an amazing politics of abundance precisely because they can rely on the group and are not as tempted to securing their future. Our biases see this as irresponsibility, but the poor actually are closer to faith, community and the Kingdom of God.

The next reading is called Announce the Gospel. I'll just let you read it: "There is an unbelievable vitality in the church in parts of Central America and Asia. There's such excitement about faith that I felt like staying there when I visited. When I said. 'Maybe I should stay here' people, without exception, said, 'No, go back to America. It's America that has to be converted and really recognize the gospel.'
'We don't need you down here in Central America,' as they'd jokingly say. 'We're actually doing better without so many priests. You go back and preach the gospel in North America.'"

Then the section of readings goes onto something else, but the very next one starts off with the beatitudes. And we all know what the first one is,"Blessed are the poor in spirit".

Out of all the beatitudes this one is probably the most debated; does this mean actual, material poverty; is it a type of spiritual poverty, like maybe a lack of knowledge; is there some sort of redeeming benefit to being destitute; etc.

But when I first read this, after reading the other sections, a new thought occurred to me. Maybe this means to be "poor...in spirit". Not actual material poverty, but to have a spirit of poverty. To have whatever amount of wealth you have, but to act and run you life as if you were poor, like the family who lives simply so they can write cheques for the less fortunate. To live simple and not hoard things so that we can share the pig. 

After all, we do talk about doing things in the Spirit. We talk about the intention and spirit of the law, or a contract. We talk about giving in the spirit of season.

And what is the second line of this Beatitude, "The kingdom of heaven is theirs". Of course it is! It makes perfect sense. If we are living in a spirit of poverty, we are able to be more giving, more connected to community, family and friends, better able to use our resources where they will have the most impact for social justice. In short, able to live as if we have actually adopted, owned and invested in  the Kingdom of God, and not just talking like it.

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