Fran posted a comment about Forsythia that got me thinking. She noted that the forsythia which survive but do not bloom are the plants in the low lying areas that get too much water. She thought of the rich young ruler, and wondered if part of the reason we don't go into full bloom in our lives is becuase we have too much.
I know this particular parable well enough that without looking it up, I remember it says that something along the lines of Jesus, looking at him and loving him, told him to "go and sell his posessions and give the money to the poor and follow me." The reason I know this is because this Scripture has always challenged me.
If memory serves, it is the only place in Scripture where it explicitly states that Jesus looked at someone,and loved him, and then gave a specific instruction. The rich guy went away sad, becuase he had lots of posessions. We are left with the understanding that he did not follow Jesus' instruction.
I am reminded of a conversation I had with Tom at Town Point. He was recently returned from Mexico, and impressed by both their poverty and their joy in life. I have heard such things from person after person who travels to the developing world. People with little by American standards in terms of material stuff are abundantly rich in terms of what most of us truly seek.
Scripture is clear on this point: money and stuff cannot buy happiness. Yet every day, we are bombarded with the message that if we acquire enough material wealth, we will be happy. This is the essence of advertising.
I struggle to live this reality in my life, too, Fran. I try to live into the teaching of "gain all you can, save all you can, give all you can." This was John Wesley's teaching (founder of Methodism,18th century) and it means I should earn as much as I can by honest labor, be as thrify as I can, and give away as much as possible. Wesley lived on the same 28 pounds his entire life, and at the end of his life gave away hundreds of pounds every year.
I think Fran and Tom are onto something significant- less really is more.