We were reading to our children Ramona’s World, in which 9-year-old Ramona Quimby gets in trouble for using the word stuff too much. Her mom, speaking in “that quiet voice that meant Ramona was about to get a little talking-to,” instructs her to find more precise words to use.
Precise or not, Monica and I sometimes feel inundated with stuff as we sort through our things and pack up our belongings in our preparations to move to Iowa. Different piles around the basement are labelled “Keep,” “Garage Sale,” and “Give Away.” On top of that are the extra bags we’ve been hauling to the roadside on garbage day. It blows me away how much we have accumulated over the years. Where did all this stuff come from?!
Most of us living in North America have more earthly possessions than we know what to do with. Our garages are so packed with them that there’s no room for the car. Then we rent units to store what our garages cannot hold. Maybe the thought of just giving some of our stuff away occasionally crosses our minds, but we cannot bring ourselves to part with it.
While I was at The King’s University College, I went on a short-term work project to Honduras. We helped people in a remote village dig a trench for a pipe that would deliver clean drinking water from a spring in the hills. There was no electricity and we slept in mud huts. Our hosts had very little in terms of earthly possessions, yet they cheerfully shared with us. In fact, they were happy to give up what little they had to help make us feel at home.
Our Honduran hosts had precious little, yet they willingly shared it all. Here we have so much, yet we tend to hang on to it all so tightly. It’s ironic: The more we have, the more we need to learn about generosity from those who have less!
(PS: Our garage sale is next Saturday!)