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Friday, January 22, 2016

Well Ordered Living


I believe that thrift is essential to well-ordered living.”
John D. Rockefeller

I have to say, I agree with John D. Rockefeller—out of necessity. I was brought up to carefully consider every penny spent—out of necessity. And even in times when I had more access to money than I do now, I was not inclined to spend frivolously. I have friends who do, and they seem perfectly happy about it, not at all troubled. In some ways, I envy their freedom, and in some ways, I'm happy I don't share it. It's strange to be of two minds, isn't it?

More and more, well-ordered living for me means having less to consider, less to worry about. I look around me and see so many things that people have given me; nice things, beautiful things. Things given out of love and generosity. I appreciate that love and generosity, and at the same time, I have grown to find things burdensome. What do I do with all these nice and beautiful things? The thrift stores around me are benefiting greatly from my friends' generosity.

I remember as a child, sitting late into the night over a pile of green peas. My father was a great believer in cleaning your plate, and you didn't have a choice as to what was put on it. We had stand-offs, which of course, he always won, being the father and all. As a child of the depression, “waste-not-want-not” was deeply ingrained in his psyche. So I ate green peas, one at a time, swallowing them like bitter medicine. And, along with an eventual appreciation for green peas and the authority of my father, I learned the lesson of thrift.

Abundance is a blessing that does not require extravagance. Thrift is a virtue that does not require austerity. Thrift and stinginess are not synonymous, nor are extravagance and generosity. Each of us has to decide what speaks to our hearts, what satisfies us, and how we can balance our giving and receiving in a way that serves both us and our world.

                                                               In the Spirit,


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