‘May we live simply so others may simply live’.
This telling phrase came to mind as I have noticed that many hardware or furniture shops now offer sections entitled ‘Storage Solutions’ - all sorts of ingenious little boxes and hangers so that we can tidy away all our stuff.
Jesus seemed oddly interested in our storage arrangements too, how we keep and hoard so many possessions that we have to build bigger extensions and barns to house it all (Luke 12:16-30). Jesus instructs us to sit lightly to all we own, otherwise ‘rust and moth decay’ and ‘thieves break in and steal’, as the big stores of our land (the ‘Sony Warehouse’s and ‘Staples Superstores’) recently discovered.
A contrasting picture that has haunted me over recent weeks was the picture of young men lifting a plasma television screen out of a ‘Currys’ shop-front window in Clapham Junction and a woman in Ethiopia carrying all the wood she could manage on her back to a refugee camp to escape from her village and the famine in the Horn of Africa. Both were carrying what they saw as ultimately valuable.
The pictures from the Horn of Africa are once again shocking. Even after so much effort was poured into relieving the situation there, despite all the emergency relief aid given in the 1980s and the long term development aid, the area remains resolutely poor, the need is too vast and huge, and the population dependent upon subsistence farming. Due to the recent drought (which has now lasted for three years) the region has once again plunged into famine.
There is such a disparity between these two pictures, isn’t there? Between the fortunes of our own society obsessed with the collection of the latest consumer durables (sometimes at any cost) and needing ‘Storage Solutions’ and my Ethiopian woman with her pile of wood and the millions who have lost everything: farm, home and village. Perhaps we can bear them in mind as we are coming to the time of Harvest Celebrations, as the season turns, and as there is a nip in the evening air and the nights noticeably drawing in,.
We pray that our own local farmers may have good yields but we also pray for those in our world who have little or nothing, and we pray that we give generously to alleviate their need. ‘To us to whom much is given, much more is expected’, Jesus says (Luke 12:48). A Prayer written by a Parishioner for our recent ‘Sacred Space’ Prayer on the theme of ‘the healing of the nations, captures this for me:
‘For ourselves that each in our own place that we may be people of peace and well-springs of hope.’
This Harvest-time, as we give thanks for all God’s gifts around us, may we too think about our own acquisitive needs and chose to live more simply so that others may simply live.
Revd Nigel Marns
Rector, The United Benefice of Mounts Bay
(Ludgvan, Marazion, St Hilary & Perranuthnoe)