Our text for Lent 1 from the Narrative Lectionary is Mark 10:17-31.
Jesus says to the man, "sell what you have and come follow me."
On this first Sunday of Lent, we begin with the notion that the things we possess are not as valuable as following Jesus empty handed. I'm looking at the weeks of Lent as various lessons along the way that lead to death, or that lead to letting go so that something else can resurrect. In this case, from this story, I hear "giving away" as an important lesson for letting go.
Many people take on disciplines during Lent. I've "given up" a lot of things over the years - coffee, sugar, purchasing anything unnecessary. Yesterday I saw that our local library is having a book sale. What a perfect time to give away a portion of my library... not just the throw away stuff, maybe I should consider giving away that which would really "ouch."
I mean the man in the story went away sad because he had so much. Well, I have so much too. I have in particular... so many books. We'll see what I come up with in my donation bag.
How about you? What is it that you have so much of that you would rather go away sad than give it up?
And I wonder if it's the letting go of the stuff that would make me sad or is it the state of being empty handed that would make me sad? Are we so full as a culture that we can't imagine being empty handed?
That's how Buddhists define emptiness. It's not a negative quality as if having too much and having to empty ourselves of it would make us walk away sad like the man in the story. But instead emptiness is a true quality of the human existence. The things we think fill us, or fill our spaces, or our homes or our landfills do not actually fill us. They are things to which we cling because they hide from us our true emptiness.
And the Buddhist would say clinging is the primary component in suffering. When we cease clinging - to the things we have, the items we own, the relationships we maintain, the life we breath, well then we actually begin living.
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