Many people have too many Hot Wheels to love. It can make you feel empty. A woman who found a new life after having Cancer once told me that before she became sick she had always felt empty. "That's why I needed to have more and more things. I kept accumulating more and more goods, more and more books and magazines and newspapers, more and more people, which only made everything worse because the more I accumulated the less I experienced. 'Have everything, experience nothing.' You could have put that right on my front door. And all the time I thought I was empty because I did not have enough."
The change had started with a bathrobe, one of the few things she had taken with her to the hospital for her cancer surgery. Every morning, she would put it on, really enjoying how soft it was, its beautiful color, the way it moved around her when she moved. Then she would walk the hall. "One morning as I was putting it on I had an overwhelming sense of gratitude", she told me. She looked at me, slightly embarrassed. 'I know this sounds funny, but I felt so lucky just have it. But the odd part, Rachel, is that it wasn't new," she told me. "I had owned it and worn it now and then for quite a few years. possibly because it was one the five bathrobes in my closet, I had never really seen it before."
When she finished chemotherapy, this woman held a huge garage sale and sold more than half of what she owned. She laughs and says that her friends thought she had gone "chemo-crazy", but doing this had enhanced her life. "I had no idea what was in my closets or what was in my drawers on on my bookshelves. I did not really know half the people whose home numbers were in my phone book either, Rachel. Many of them never even sent me a card. I have fewer things now and know fewer people, but I am not empty. Having and experiencing are very different. Having was never enough."
We sat together for a few minutes, watching the sun making shadows on the office rug. Then she looked up. "Perhaps we only really have as much as we can love," she said.
This story from Dr. Remen's book spoke to me in a very deep place. No coincidence then that Pastor Mark spoke to this same experience in this mornings Men's Bible Study. The experience for me and for the woman in the story is that it is easy to get "stuck" in life. We are sometimes given opportunities to change our lives. Sometimes these opportunities are God given. I don't mean to blame God for my cancer. Cancer is just a part of the human condition. What I do intend is to praise God for removing the scales from my eyes so that I might discover what is most important and to live my life accordingly.