What we need and what we don’t need

First, watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6c3j6x7hgA.

In this video, you will see my sister-in-law, a brilliant ceramic artist, methodically putting on safety goggles, then protective gloves, and with a hammer, turning tea pots, vases — beautiful items — into shards and broken pieces.  As we watched her strike each piece, we all cried, “No, that’s too beautiful.”  Each piece was gathered on sheets of paper that was protecting the floor then transferred to a box for recycling into new clay.

My brother and sister-in-law are leaving Toronto.  They offered a closing out sale of her beautiful, ceramic creations.  The items she destroyed were pieces she had left over from that sale.  As an artist, she created and offered things that were expressions of her ideas, visions and dreams for others to enjoy.  But in the end, they were just things. And things, when we do not need them, can drag us down. “Tchothkes”.

In Job 1:21, Job said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

My sister-in-law is a Buddhist and would have smiled at my recollection of this verse. While I cannot claim to understand the Buddhist concept of self-renunciation, her act reminded me of Jesus’ admonition to “sell all you have and follow me/give to the poor,” (Matthew 19:21; Luke 18:22).

For pilgrim people, is this not what we were told when gathering bread from heaven, that we gather as much of it as we need and not leave any of it over until morning (Exodus 16)?

The irony of the current food system is that we turned the food that we need into a commodity that can be hoarded in warehouses, waiting for a better return for investors, while leaving many hungry.  The consequence of this hoarding is the same as the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill, which we are now at day 52, that began with the April 20 explosion and fire on the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, owned by Transocean Ltd. and leased by BP PLC, which is in charge of cleanup and containment.

Oil is not just what fuels the vehicles that transport us but in everything else that we use: carpeting, furniture, clothing, even toothpaste, shaving cream, lipstick, vitamin capsules. For want of more of these things, we build bigger drilling rigs that can horde more oil, never thinking of how much it can spill. The Associated Press reported estimates of this oil spill as having more oil flowing in an hour than officials once said spilled in a day.

Do we really need all these things? Do we really need a bigger oil rig? Do we need another oil spill?

God supplied us with what we need. Gather as much of it as each of you needs, all providing for those in their tents.

Salaam, TinaC.

Tina Conlon, 11 June 2010

About macconlon

Artist, activist, community organizer now working as a Community Minister for the Davenport Perth Community Ministry of the Shining Waters Region of the United Church of Canada.
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1 Response to What we need and what we don’t need

  1. Wendy Pappas says:

    Beautiful Tina

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