Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Saying of the Desert Christians: True Poverty 1


Abba Theodore, surnamed Pherme, had three good books. He went to abba Macarius and said to him, "I have three good books, and I am helped by reading them; other monks also want to read them and they are helped by them. Tell me, what am I to do?" The old man said, "Reading books is good but possessing nothing is more than all.' When he heard this, he went away and sold the books and gave the money to the poor.

Well, ouch! This hits home. I love to read. I love books. From the moment Sr Padua introduced me to the written word, a love affair began which has only gained momentum over the years in between. I read this Saying and remind myself I am Benedictine and we hold to spiritual poverty and we actively encourage holy reading.

Which is a fine way to wiggle out of confronting a Saying that says something I don't like, that sounds so foreign to my modern ears. But it is in the Sayings and so I have to deal with it.

Possessions do creep up on us, do they not? And there is something about possessions that require one to own more. Take these computer gizmos, for example. One cannot be content with only a computer. If one has a computer one needs a printer, a modem or some means to connect to the Internet, zip drive, maybe an external hard drive, one of those wrist supports so one does not get carpal tunnel problems, books that explain how to use the software and I daresay that if I really understood how these things work, there is a lot more paraphernalia that seems critical to own.

In calling myself the Knitternun, you know that means I knit. And knitters collect a lot of stuff. Knitting needles (straight in 2 lengths and several sizes, circulars in several lengths and sizes, double pointed needles in many sizes, needles to sew the seams together, cable needles) stitch markers, row counters, scissors, thimbles to use with the very tiny sharp needles, tape measures, things to measure gauge, things to measure what size the knitting needle is, crochet hooks,stitch dictionaries, books about techniques, books to solve knitting problems. And then there is the yarn. Oh the yarn! Knitters have a secret language too. When we talk about having SEX we mean a Stash Enrichment eXperience, aka, buying yarn. Some knitters talk about having more yarn that they could ever knit in their lifetime and still they buy more. They also seriously consider to whom to bequeath their legacies of yarn.

I hope I allow the spirit of this Saying to get inside me, to roil around in there and work within me. I am only a beginner. I do work to decrease my possessions. I haven't bought yarn in years and years as I realized I was becoming one of those yarn collectors who was going to need to think about a will. Instead I use it up to knit things to give away: prayer shawls ( ) to comfort those in need. Then there are those things I knit to sell at church where 100% goes to our outreach programs.

I can't face the idea of having nothing at all. But I can work on reducing my possessions and I can work to use what I have to offer it to the Body of Christ. Am I kidding myself, I wonder sometimes. Or have I overlooked something? What do you think?


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