For what can a man give in return for his soul?
Yesterday we burned the past. Box after box was hauled from the back porch to the burn pile. Boxes we had crated and stored with every move we have made. Boxes of lives we were a part of, dreams we helped build. Boxes of stories.
The Gardener and I gazed through the smoke reading the bittersweet expressions on each other’s faces as years of our lives and hundreds of thousands of hours were emptied onto the flames. Bittersweet. Bitter because of the demands our business put on our relationship, our parenting, our friendships. Bitter because of the chasing of fame, and fortune which consumed so many of our days now reduced to dust. Bitter the reality of poor choices made, compromises considered, risks taken so costly. Bitter the yearning for opulence and the clanging of coins in the purse.
Yet, sweet in a melancholy sort of way. Sweet the way hearts were turned into homes. Sweet the talents and gifts of skilled hands, loyal laborers, artisan craftsman. Sweet the way we helped a community to prosper and flourish and change. Sweet the strength of vision and the longing for place. It was just the wrong place.
As I sat under the candlelight of the evenings Lent service, the words of Mark 7 echoed through me. I realized there is nothing I would give, no treasure that would tempt me from this place of soul. There was nothing this world could offer me to trade for this new Shalom. Though I am poorer in state than in the days of the boxes, I am richer in presence. Richer in love. Richer in peace and vision. I have pulled up the stake, and followed hard after the lover of my soul. I do not long for the boxed life. The life that was eaten by strangers, and given to other people’s children in the worship of culture, and power, and greed. I long for my soul to be broken bread and poured out wine in the ministry of life-the life of Christ.
The boxes are still smoldering tonight. It seems the boxed life does not die easily. I think I will go stir the pile and resurrect the flame. I think I will smile at the edge of the ashes. Smile at the choice to not trade the freedom of living this God breathed authentic moment for any gilded box of earthly treasure.
You oh Lord are the anchor of my soul. In you I delight. In you I will never be put to shame. Hold me close to your heart in these days to the cross. Hold me as I gaze upon your choice and love you in the midst of suffering.