Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. –Mark 10:21
I find stickers in my back pocket. Drum sticks in the middle of the kitchen floor. A little stuffed giraffe propped up in the corner of the couch. A figurine, affectionately named Gordon, in my shoe. These sacred sprinklings are welcome signs of my son’s presence. Joyful, silly, unexpected interruptions in my adult life that fourteen months in, still feel new. These days will not last forever.
At times, when I see one of these objects standing on its own, I cry. They are infused with Simon’s affection, so now I find they are meaningful to me. I adore them because he has chosen them to be special objects in his life.
In my life, I have tried to travel lightly and not cling to things. I try to be a conscientious shopper and an active purger. So this emotional, already nostalgic attachment to a few of Simon’s things has been a surprise to me. This Lent, I’m thinking about the rich man. I’m thinking about my possessions.
We see in the rich man’s grief that he is clinging to his possessions. He doesn’t want to let them go. Jesus sees rightly that they are what is truly holding him back from following Jesus, knowing Jesus. Instead of owning his possessions, his possessions own him. So often, people who have too much stuff are the ones who struggle to give that stuff up.
I asked high schoolers what they would save in a house fire. A writing and sketching journal. A blanket from childhood. A cello. A phone, because on it she has voicemails saved of important voices in her life. These objects have been infused with meaning over time. And I don’t think they pull these youth further from God. In fact, I’d argue these object bring them closer to God.
It is a good Lenten practice to take inventory of our stuff. Stuff is not inherently bad. Some of it, over time and due to love, have become so infused with meaning that they can invite us into thin spaces of gratitude. It’s the stuff that takes us away from God, the stuff that owns us, the stuff that distracts us and keeps us focused on this world that we need to worry about. Are there possessions that are holding us back from following Jesus to the cross?