I have a serious problem, I thought to myself as the cat food slid from my arms down past the ketchup, rice, stalks of celery, and cherry tomatoes onto the tile flooring. I am one of those people who almost always walks into the store without a cart and inevitably finds too much to carry. The most problematic items are rice and bottles of vinegar or oil because when they tumble they are extra tricky to retrieve from the floor. I end up having to go back and get the little carrying container or humble myself even more by admitting I need the rolling the cart. The desired merchandise pile is hidden away on a shelf as I complete the supermarket walk of shame. I wish it only applied to the store.
I remember staying overnight in a hospital with McKinley for one of the surgeries she had, completely overloaded with but-what-if items. Stuff to do, food to eat, water to drink... I think I even borrowed a sleeping bag from a friend. With no car in the city of her accident, I had to lug my bad choices around with me from pre-op, op, and post-op rooms. About halfway through the experience, I realized the hospital staff must've wondered if we were homeless. This is me at my worst.
At my best, I make solid choices that don't weigh too much and carry them in a backpack. I can get whatever I need from the corner store, I remind myself.
At the core of this realization is trust or a lack thereof. My what-ifs become a burden instead of a reprieve. If I am loaded down with burdens, can I move when I need to? Our Latin coastal environment is a beautiful example for me. A guard walks over to the mango tree with a long pole. He knocks down a few mangoes, picks them up, and hands one to the neighbor sitting on her front stoop. He starts eating the other, alternating bites and chit-chatting about the weather.
There is something special about being needed and needing others. Countless times I've seen the people around me perk up when we didn't have what we needed. Without hesitation they take the snack they brought and give it to us selflessly. It is common for us to see someone who has very little, give what they have if a need arises.
It causes me to wonder how often I have missed out on an opportunity to rely on someone else. In Western culture, we praise being prepared and never running out of something. What if in being prepared we miss out on the blessing it is for someone to give and for us to receive?
I love books. I love having them stacked on the shelf waiting to be read, reread, and highlighted. This can be problematic when there are no libraries around our city that actually let you borrow a book. It would at least curb me from overdoing it when we go to thrift stores in the States and then try to figure out how we are going to pack all those heavy items back with us! (A tip: pack the heavy books and jeans in your carry-on because they never weigh them)
I can admit that I officially have too many books to read at the moment. The "problem" is that I have found some books that are so good that this year I keep going back to them to read them again. Typically it goes something like this: I remember a quote or an idea, go to the shelved book, take it out, and begin searching while standing. As I'm leafing through the book, the underlined texts and highlights jump out at me and remind me just how precious and relevant this book is to me. By this time, I am already sitting down with the book and pouring over it again.
Have you read a line, heard a melody, or felt a fabric so rich that you get this feeling of nostalgia almost immediately? I've been getting this nostalgic feeling more and more as I age. Sometimes it feels just so rich I don't know that I can hold it inside. That is how I have come to feel about God's love. He has made me a romantic, and when I am most in tune with Him, I can't get enough. I want more and more.
The beautiful truth about His love is that it can overflow and tumble out and over and isn't a problem needing containing. His love has ravished my heart and with all of my senses, I capture the treasures seen and unseen. Holding a woman's hand as she pours out her troubles, I feel His compassionate love emitting. Augustine's lines in Confessions about love unlocked something in me deep down inside:
I came to love You late,
O Beauty so ancient and new;
I came to love You late.
You were within me and I was outside, where I rushed about wildly searching for You like some monster loose in Your beautiful world.
You were with me, but I was not with You.
You called me. You shouted to me, You wrapped me in your splendor.
You sent my blindness reeling.
You gave out such a delightful fragrance, and I drew it in and came breathing hard after You. I tasted and it made me hunger and thirst. You touched me and I burned to know your peace.
This longing in our hearts comes from a desperate need. It comes from a humble lack of, not an overabundance of ________. The treasures of His presence are recognized and most enjoyed when I am waiting for Him. When I busy myself with activities and plans in the waiting, I get distracted and stop looking...hearing...observing.
Wouldn't it be tragic to have my arms so full, bags so packed, and shelves so stocked that there wasn't any room? Do I desperately need Jesus? Am I longing for Him and looking for Him so attentively to not miss His presence?
I long for you, Holy Spirit. I am empty, and needy. Fill me to overflowing, precious Lord Jesus.