This caregiver likes to start his day checking a daily bible verse source, as well as some Rumi, usually from a random opening of a book. In fact, because of Claire’s gifts to Jane, I and herself, we all have new volumes of Rumi and so there is a lot of enlightening poetry floating around in our little community these days.
The bible verse for today is Matthew 6: 19-21
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
So Jesus, a teacher (he was called Rabbi), and his ragged band of followers were enjoying the success he was having telling parables to the crowds and healing all those who came to him. But he spent a lot of time teaching his disciples as well, revealing the secrets of the “kingdom” – his relationship to God. This verse is part of what is called the “sermon on the mount” given to his disciples in the context of having crowds of people following him.
In a nutshell, Jesus saw people as his heavenly father saw them and acted towards people the way God wanted all his children treating each other. So me/mine and you/yours was replaced by God’s and sharing the blessings we have been given. But it is not like his disciples could flip some internal switch and turn off the social conditioning that had formed them and so he taught them through word and deed what God expects of his children. This passage is simply getting them to put their focus on God’s way of seeing us and our achievements, in short what matters to God, freeing his disciples from the usual way of measuring their achievements (displays of wealth and being a somebody). It is not what people think that matters now, but what is really worth doing.
As caregivers who are giving of themselves, often sacrificially in order to care for their loved one(s), there is no earthly treasure being accumulated because of their efforts, but in Jesus’ words they sure are piling up treasure in heaven. God has always wanted his children taking care of each other and loving each other as much as he loves us.
Phrase your Question
How many years, like children,
do we have to collect sticks and pieces of broken pottery
and pretend that they are valuable?
Leave childhood. Go to the banquet of true human beings,
Split open the cultural mold.
Put your head up out of the sack.
Rumi, The Big Red Book, Coleman Barks, p. 157
For Rumi, stuff is of not much value and pretending to ourselves and agreeing with others that stuff is valuable is a display of ignorance of what really matters. This is something caregivers get to know as they are drawn more and more into the growing needs of their loved one(s) and everything else becomes less and less important in the struggle to survive. But in this growing focus outside of your own self-centredness is the path to liberation. Taking your head out of the feedbag and looking up makes more and more sense. We start seeing treasure in special moments we get with our loved one(s), moments not available to those with their head in their feed bags. As we care for those who cared for us, the gift of love compounds interest in our heavenly bank accounts. Heaven on earth is waking up to what really matters and living in that reality, rather than keeping up with the Jones.
You don’t have to be a caregiver to find Jesus’ kingdom of heaven, or Rumi’s liberation, but that self-imposed, sacrificial suffering does much to refine a soul, burning away the stuff that doesn’t matter so that the gift you were created to be can shine out more and more.
Originally written on January 9, 2019