Jesus told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”
I wish I had not read this after two straight weekends of being so proud of what our garden has produced, making jam and pickles, blackberry coffee cakes, zucchini bread and roasted tomatoes. I stacked the jars in the pantry behind the jam and pickles we still have left from last year, laid the tomatoes and baked goods in the deep freeze. And then I thought: It surely would be nice to have another freezer…
You know the story about the man who was excited about the harvest (a harvest, I would point out, that had more to do with sun and rain than with his skills as a farmer). He was so happy with his own success, he didn’t think of anyone or anything else, other than how to make it even bigger and better the following year. But then what would he do with all that stuff? Why, he’d have to build more and bigger barns, of course. Not that he needed them. Maybe he just wanted to walk around in those big barns and think about what a great farmer he was, about how all this grain was his. About how he had everything he needed.
But before he could build, he died. And there he was, with a whole lot of grain.
Last weekend, my husband and I attended an outdoor production of Rent. On a lovely summer evening (after a day of storing up more harvested stuff), surrounded by happy people eating picnics as the sun set and the moon rose, we listened to the story of people in 1980s New York City during the scourge of the AIDS epidemic. Its heavy themes of disease, decline, fear and death also support another theme: that of living in the moment. You probably know the most famous song to come out this musical, “Seasons of Love.” Here are some of the lyrics.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes.
How do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights,
In cups of coffee.
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes.
How do you measure
A year in the life?
How about love? Measure in love.
Oh you got to got to remember the love!
You know that love is a gift from up above
Share love, give love spread love
Measure your life in love.
The rich man with the barns and the grain lost out. He was worried about storing up the wrong stuff and the parable calls him a fool. He died suddenly and didn’t have time to reflect on what was important. Our lives are measured not by what we have in our barns, pantries, houses, driveways. Our lives are measured by the people we have touched and who have touched us.
We should be storing up love.
© Melissa Bane Sevier, 2010