Do you own things or do they own you?
A friend from seminary worked as an estate manager. In addition to over seeing the cook, the maids, and the gardeners, she also monitored the security system. The security system a gated driveway where she would accept various deliveries, video monitoring, and motion detectors. All designed to protect the estate and the owner’s privacy. As I mentally added up the costs of the various layers of security, which included my friend’s apartment, it left me appreciating the value or living simply.
This year’s Advent calendar from Presbyterians Today suggests “Decluttering for Christmas.” Among the suggestions for this week is “the rule of 100”; a reflection about a woman’s decision to downsize to owning no more than 100 items in her home. Instead I would recommend striving toward shared ownership rather than minimal ownership. What tools in your garage do you and your neighbors each own and rarely use all at the same time. For example, could you have a shared lawn mower, shovel, rakes, or fertilizer spreader perhaps kept in a shed with a shared key? In addition to lowering each person’s expenses, these shared resources might encourage a sense of community.
How else might things we own become opportunities to create relationships with the people around us?
The lover of money will not be satisfied with money;
nor the lover of wealth, with gain.
This also is vanity.
— Ecclesiastes 5:10 (NRSV)