In Matthew 6: 19, Jesus tells us, “Do not store up for ourselves treasures here on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store for yourself treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
My mother-in-law spent the week in the hospital because she fell and broke her wrist. She was already weak from a previous hospital stay less than two weeks before. My husband was out of the country and unavailable so taking care of her became mine to do. I was grateful that I was able to be there for her.
Because of her weakened state, she was moved to a skilled nursing facility or in lay person’s terms, a nursing home. Now, I worked skilled nursing facilities a number of years as a speech therapist so I am not unfamiliar with that environment. But, it was a shock even to my system when I approached one as a family member. The residents there all share a room which means that their entire life gets reduced to one half of a room. They have a bed, a dresser, a TV and a few personal items. And except for those who are there for rehabilitation, this will be their life until they make their transition.
This morning during my time of meditation, this line in Matthew came to me. It caused me to reflect on what is really important. Dealing with aging parents as much as I have the past couple of months has motivated me to look at what is vital in order to live a fulfilled joyous life. I love my things. As I sit here writing this, I am surrounded with the things I love best. Yet, I see more and more how this is all so temporary. There will come a point in time when all of us will have to give this physical existence up. We all will have to give our things up. This doesn’t mean we will be in a nursing home, but all of us at some point will be faced with letting go of our lives without the ability or opportunity to build it back. I know I am stating the obvious but how many of us operate under the illusion that it won’t happen to “me?” We will be the ones to cheat our final demise. Does that mean we live in fear of that moment until then or do everything in our power to protect our things to keep them safe? That depends on each one of us and where we place our focus . I think Jesus’ statement calls us all to look at how much energy do we spend trying to accumulate or protect our loved ones or our cherished treasures. Do we do it at the expense of our joy or heaven in the present moment?
So, I ask, “Where is our treasure?” If we know where our treasure is now and continue our spiritual practice to deepen our awareness of God’s ever-present presence then we will be better equipped to move through our transitions with grace and dignity. I looked around at the facility yesterday and wondered if the residents still felt purposeful or joy? I have to believe that those feelings are inherent in every moment. As we lean deeper into God, we will discover that joy and fulfillment is still possible when we reach that final stage of our lives when we have to let everything go. We will still find meaning and love because we discovered those qualities in the midst of our treasures. In a addition, we learn to deeply appreciate what we have because we face the reality that it will all be gone one day.
I have been a washed with sadness as I walk with my parents on this journey yet I am deeply grateful for the opportunity. I get to see first hand that storing my treasures in anything less than the presence of Spirit is foolhardy. Does this mean that I stay in that awareness all the time? Of course not, but I am more appreciative of the gifts that fill my life in this moment. I am also more conscious of the qualities of spirit that fill my life and that are eternal. And for that I am grateful.