Monday, February 11, 2008


I've been thinking a lot about the desires we have, and how much time we spend in them. We watch television and think about having a house like theirs, a life like hers, a hairstyle, nails, skin, stuff, money, looks, body, wife, husband, children like we see on the glowing screen. We fantasize about the lottery and how we would spend the money--or use the money for good, even. We shop and shop and shop. We plan for different futures and make to-dos for changing the present.

I've spoken before about the evils of mail-order catalogs and gotten looks of dismay. Catalogs are tools of covetousness, plain and simple. My weaknesses are tool catalogs (Lee Valley is the biggest offender) and Eighth Day Books. We flip through them and see all kinds of things we want, things that will make our lives better, neater, happier, smoother, prettier...or so we think. How can one not look through a catalog (a "wish book") and not wish? When I've said these things aloud, people have looked at me like I was defective, like either I was monstrously sinful and most people don't feel that way when browsing a catalog, or like they wouldn't believe what I was saying. Couldn't believe it. Perhaps I spend too much time flipping through catalogs.

On Ash Wednesday our Director of Music (Mrs. This Side) chose "One Thing's Needful" for a distribution hymn. It's one of our favorite hymns. We even recorded it for a bedtime CD for the little ones. I've quoted the hymn before, but here's a verse:

One thing’s needful; Lord, this treasure
Teach me highly to regard;
All else, though it first give pleasure,
Is a yoke that presses hard.
Beneath it the heart is still fretting and striving,
No true, lasting happiness ever deriving.
The gain of this one thing all loss can requite
And teach me in all things to find true delight.
(Johann H. Schröder, 1667–99; Public Domain)
Placing all our desires in our Lord takes time, and is accomplished through the Lenten disciplines: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. The first feeds us, the second disciplines our bodies, the third removes the possibility to gratify our material whims.

A blessed and joyful Lent to you!


  1. Rev. Eric J Brown said...

    I think we often over look the utter sinfulness present in our lives - that sin tinges and taints everything. All that we do get tainted. Is it wrong to shop? No. Do we use shopping in a wrong fashion? Yes.

    Every blessing we have in life we can twist and use for sin. That is the struggle we see in this life. There is not one who is righteous, no not one.

  2. Dixie said...

    Great stuff! For me its hard to think an Eight Day catalogue can distract our attention from the one thing needful. But we know it's true. Heck...I am still pining for those granite countertops!

    May your Lenten fasting, prayers and almsgiving be profitable.