Open­ing to the Spirit

To­day’s word: Want­ing

Sherbrooke Record - - COLUMNIST - By Revs Mead Baldwin, W. Lynn Dil­l­abough, Lee Ann Hogle, and Ca­role Mar­tig­nacco


) Wish­ing and want­ing: as chil­dren, so much of our young lives seem bound up in our de­sires to grow up quickly so we can do all the things adults do. In our se­nior years it is tempt­ing to look back and wish we were young again. We would redo the parts where we made mis­takes. If only we could go back, we would en­joy the good things we were too busy to ap­pre­ci­ate.

What would our lives be like if we stopped want­ing what we don’t have, ac­cepted what we do have and stopped to give thanks for to­day’s bless­ings? Nev­er­the­less it is an enduring chal­lenge to turn off the lit­tle “wan­ter” that sits in­side my heart. Right now I want to be thin­ner, have more free time and feel less stressed.

Just sit­ting down to this writ­ing ex­er­cise though al­lows me the oc­ca­sion to ap­pre­ci­ate the mo­ment of calm that sur­rounds me. I en­joy this time to write with col­leagues. I give thanks for this space carved out in a busy day. I re­ally don’t need one more thing than this small pause.

My “wan­ter” has been si­lenced for the mo­ment.


) We have some young chil­dren in our congregation who come ea­gerly each week to wor­ship and Sun­day school. Their first words as I greet them at the door are usu­ally: I want to ring the bell, or I want to light the can­dle. We have tasks for many of them: “The Ac­knowl­edge­ment of Na­tive Land”, the monthly coin col­lec­tion for our foster child, or the Echo prayer af­ter story time. With eight or nine chil­dren how­ever, not ev­ery­one gets to do what they want. What a pow­er­ful life les­son.

“We can't al­ways get what we want, but if we try some­times, we get what we need.” Yes, I am quot­ing the lyrics of a Rolling Stones song. Want­ing and get­ting are two very dif­fer­ent things. There may be some in our so­ci­ety who are truly priv­i­leged, and have the money to ac­tu­ally ful­fill their ev­ery de­sire, at least, ad­ver­tis­ers seem to hope so. The rest of us have to make choices. What do we re­ally want? What do we ac­tu­ally need?

When I think of “want­ing”, I think of har­mony, world peace, a non-vi­o­lent world, food and shel­ter for ev­ery­one. What I need to achieve these dreams is not money but a change of at­ti­tude. Work­ing to­gether, if we try some­times, we may get what we need.


) We used to play a game, the girls and I, called Wants and Wishes. On a bleak weather day with noth­ing else to do, giv­ing our imag­i­na­tions free reign could brighten the mood. We'd name all those things that were miss­ing from our lives - a dish­washer, match­ing win­ter caps and mit­tens, and a car that didn't break down ev­ery other week. The more we imag­ined, the wilder we got. One daugh­ter de­cided be­ing a princess wasn't enough, she wanted the whole cas­tle, and an­other topped that with her own per­sonal ge­nie and a "real" magic car­pet. Out­ra­geous wish­ing was some­how sat­is­fy­ing; nam­ing our wildest wants had even a kind of cleans­ing ef­fect. We'd play it all out un­til we could think of noth­ing more. At the end we'd agreed to give thanks that we had quite a lot al­ready to make us happy, in­clud­ing each other, if happy we were to be.

Need­less to say, as a sin­gle mom with four grow­ing ups, my wants were quite pedes­trian: that my girls would be safe and healthy, that I would keep my job in a cy­cle of lay­offs. And by all means the tan­gi­bles: to be pare down the elec­tric bill, to be able to call a plumber, to find enough sales and coupons to cut the gro­cery bill. At that point, I'd re­mem­ber I was blessed - for some­how we al­ways made it to each month's end.

Want­ing rhymes with haunt­ing. In the back­ground of our lives, it's hard not to think of all whose real needs, let alone wants, go un­ful­filled. What does it feel like to live in a state of per­pet­ual want­ing? I will never know, from this priv­i­leged place and time where just about any­thing that comes to mind, within rea­son, is within reach. I turn to my spouse and say, next time we're out, let's pick up (fill in the blank - food, gad­gets or bot­tle of wine). So much of what we want far out­strips our needs. And I am haunted by the aware­ness that for much of the world, and not far from my own doorstep, such is not the case.

If all our needs and de­sires could be ful­filled, wouldn't there yet be some­thing left "want­ing" - some­thing we don't even know we need. Isn't a world where oth­ers are not left want­ing what we should want most of all?


) It all de­pends on what we want. Some want­ing is like a black hole. We can never get enough of the things that we didn’t re­ally need in the first place. We want things. We want recog­ni­tion. We want con­trol.

Over and over, our Scrip­tures tell us to turn our­selves to­ward God. We are told to put on the mind of Christ. We are told to ask for what we need in Christ’s name and we will re­ceive it. These are the wants that can be ful­filled. This is the liv­ing wa­ter that leaves us never thirsty.

It is all about our ori­en­ta­tion. When we want what God wants there is al­ways enough be­cause we are think­ing about what we can share, rather than what we can ac­cu­mu­late. When we want what God wants we don’t have to go look­ing for love be­cause we know that we are love. When we want what God wants we do not waste time try­ing to be in con­trol be­cause we know that we are not.

Let’s not waste time stor­ing up things for our­selves that will not last but, rather, put our minds to things that en­dure. Al­ways and al­ways this is love. Try want­ing things for other peo­ple. Want jus­tice for the op­pressed. Want food for the hun­gry. Want peace in your re­la­tion­ships for love of the other per­son.

Want God to live in your heart and guide your thoughts. With this you will no longer want the things that cause you harm. With this you will want only what is good.

One word, four voices -now it's your turn to re­flect: What is want­ing in your life?

Rev. Mead Baldwin pas­tors the Water­ville & North Hat­ley pas­toral charge; Rev. Lynn Dil­l­abough is now Rec­tor of St. Paul's in Brockville ON. She con­tin­ues to write for this col­umn as a ded­i­cated col­league with the East­ern Town­ships clergy writ­ing team; Rev. Lee Ann Hogle min­is­ters to the Ayer’s Cliff, Ma­gog & Ge­orgeville United Churches; Rev. Ca­role Mar­tig­nacco is Con­sult­ing Min­is­ter to UU Es­trie-uni­tar­ian Univer­sal­ists in North Hat­ley.

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