You know how in our era of rationality and logic it’s easy to dismiss those who freely and fully believe(d) in angels and demons as “simple”? I wonder if they might be the wise ones! Whether literal or not, isn’t there something demonic about the pull and power of excessive, repetitive, or controlling Want, Wealth, and Worry? Wanting our way leads to violence, and makes us blind to problems like racism and the ongoing racial killings (#GeorgeFloyd). Wealth has a way of becoming a greedy god, resulting in a culture ridden with lack and division. While worries slowly kill us from the inside out.
Clenching our “fists” around our wants, relentlessly pursuing (or is it obeying?) wealth, and playing the soundtrack of our worries on repeat have long been temptations hard for us to resist. Want, in the sense of perpetually yearning for that which I don’t have and/or clinging tightly to my preferences, the never-ending chase for wealth, and living in a land of past regrets and potential future frustrations (worry), have been and remain false answers to one of life’s big issues. The question is and has been: Where does True and lasting aliveness, the kind that makes your existence sing with beauty, joy, peace, wholeness, togetherness, and Love come from? Nearly 2,000 years ago, on this topic Paul told the Corinthians:
For [the Divine] says,
“At an acceptable time I have listened to you,
And on a day of salvation I have helped you.”
See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, … We are treated as imposters, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything. (2 Corinthians 6:2-10, NRSV)
ALL the things we deeply desire, are already here, even in the midst of lack, the unknown, sickness, and sorrow! At least that’s what read Paul as saying, but we’ll come back to that. Billy Eilish sings: “I had a dream I got everything I wanted. Not what you’d think. And if I’m being honest, it might’ve been a nightmare.” Can you see the powerful wisdom in her observation? Wants, like wealth and worries, are tempters that lure you in with the promise of fulfillment, only to leave you emptier and hungrier than before. I’m on my tenth iPhone, but certainly the next one will fill my tech toy cravings! Know what I mean?
Dave Matthews beautifully sums up the problem and answer by pointing out: “What I want is what I’ve NOT got, but what I need is ALL around me.” And he dropped the mic! “Want”, in the way we’re talking about it, is focused on something that’s always just over the horizon, and often includes an element of wanting to own the object. Which, I think, cuts to the heart of the matter. Want is an orientation we have toward objects (cars, iPhones, vacations, furniture, etc.), but the fullness of life is relational and focuses on connecting with subjects (people, animals, the Divine).
Aliveness, breath, Spirit, Love, connection, beauty, diversity, music, and harmony, the makings of a magical life, are truly all around us. I don’t know about you, but when I’m outside enjoying the sights and sounds, sharing and caring with friends and family, cuddling with my wife or daughter, simply feeling a slow and deep inhale and exhale, and other such things, something central to me knows this to be True.
There’s a Zen koan, an anecdote or riddle meant to get you seeing things in a new way, that simply says: “A master asks. How can you be free from life and death?” Zen author Katsuki Sekida’s answers the riddle with, “Don’t worry about it.” “How can you be free from life and death? Don’t worry about it.”
In the same way that when we worry, we’re slaves to the past or future (which literally don’t exist), when we focus on wealth, we make it our god, often without realizing. If I’m 100% honest, I’d say Wealth is the god of many Americans. Jesus poignantly told us we cannot serve both the Source of Life and Love (the Divine) and wealth, we have to choose. When I focus on my next glorious vacation, while neglecting the homeless, hungry, and hurting people in my hometown, I am totally missing the point!
This leads me back to Corinthians and three keys to slaying the stealthy demons of Want, Worry, and Wealth. You know how demons possess people? When I read, “having nothing, and yet possessing everything,” I think a similar dynamic is at play. We can “possess” the richness of life (i.e. everything) by being fully IN it. By going ALL the way into life. Complete vulnerability, togetherness, understanding, compassion, curiosity, and kindness brings us fully into existence in the most powerful way.
When we possess (or are possessed by) life, we’re radically present in the here and now, standing entirely with others, Spirit, and ourselves. Honestly, I haven’t been present for a good portion of my life. Yet, the more I practice presence, the more angels sing and rainbows explode around me anywhere and everywhere. Something about being here and now leads me into a state of rapturous awe over how magical it is to be alive, and how awesome the Creator is!
Possession, presence, and awe. Whether they’re Want, Wealth, and Worry, or something else, how do we slay and gain freedom from our demons? Diving completely into the here and now with mouths agape in wonder is a great start! I pray this blesses you, would love to hear your thoughts, and hope you have an amazing day!
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