Saturday, February 14, 2004

The Most Important Things in Life Are Free

So said my father. Went out for a walk with him last night and we had a good father-son talk. But his point was that the things that we value the most and the things that we need the most, we cannot buy with money. Ironically, that makes them more costly because they cannot be valued; that is, they are invaluable. The economic idea of the water-diamond paradox may explain how some necessities can be free or so cheap. However, I would argue that we don't begin to appreciate the value of something invaluable until it is gone; that is why necessities can be so cheap and worthless. As soon as water is scarce or nowhere to be found, it'll be a lot more valuable than diamonds. I think we can all agree on that, no?

Let me paint you a picture of what I see every morning and every night. In the morning, I get out of the house at around 7:35. The sun is shining and is still in the middle of rising. There is a twilight effect in the air, as the night finishes transitioning to the day. The sky is a colour of freshness, not of mysticism, as it would be just before the dawn. There is a multitude of song, as birds chirp and the air is clean. And I see a moon still in the blue sky. The sunlight struggles to take over, as the moon fades away; its temporary reign is over. I can feel alive.

When I finish work, I walk out and on either side of me are flower beds. The smell is pungent and causes the mind to enter a drugged state of limbo. It's like I'm in a dream.

After class, I come home. Getting off the bus and walking down the street, I looked up a few nights ago. For the first time in a while, I realized how far away the stars seemed and how mystical they were. Blocking out peripheral vision and focusing on only the sky, it's like being in outer space itself. Orion stands out like a warrior triumphantly proclaiming that he has taken the sky back from the sun, so that his queen, the moon, may reign again. I get lost in the wonder of the stars, for I had forgotten the power that they could have. When was the last time I actually looked at stars? Not just see, but actually observe and appreciate? It seems so long ago. 'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free, 'tis the gift to be just right, as we ought to be.

But perhaps the most important thing any of us ever needs is also given to us without us paying a price. Grace is free. How do you live if people are unwilling to give you grace? If you are unwilling to give yourself grace? But by definition, grace is undeserved kindness. You cannot do anything to receive it, otherwise, you would deserve it. By definition, the only way for you to have it is to just receive it. And yet, all of these things have a cost. While we may not be paying the cost, something or someone is. For water, it's the ecosystem. We work hard to purify water that is wasted and put back into the ecosystem, but the ecosystem gets damaged nevertheless. Plus, aquifiers get depleted. That kind of sucks for landlocked areas. For flowers, they need sunlight to grow: the sun's rays will one day be no more as the sun gets closer and closer to supernova. They also take water from us. Dang flowers. ;) There's always a cost of some kind from somewhere; nothing can ever be free. One may argue that those costs might as well be put to use, for you can't stop the sun from doing what it's doing anyway. But cost-accounting has its advantages in accurately tracking expenses, you know?

But for grace, the cost is from the pocket of the giver; or rather, the heart. The father of the teenage son who died from gunshot wounds in Taber, Alberta was willing to forgive the killer. That took courage, heart, and much mental strength. When someone forgives me for something that I do wrong, they have to be able to forget the past; this is an especially difficult thing if the wrongdoing is significant and longterm. There is a huge cost in forgiveness. None more so than what JC did in taking my place in punishment. And it's freely given away.

"But to him who is forgiven much, loves much. But to him who is forgiven little, loves little." ~Jesus Christ

And then there's love. Perhaps just as important. I'd argue the two go hand in hand with each other. But really, you cannot earn somebody's love. In the end, they either choose to give it to you or not. But when they do, the cost is their heart. They give their heart away and hope that the person holding it takes good care of it. You can do nothing to deserve ownership of it, only be willing to accept it. Because it really is theirs to give.

I'd like to see Mel Gibson's The Passion when it comes out (it's out February 25). It's supposed to be an extremely well-done portrayal of the final hours of Christ before the crucifixion. Anybody want to go together?

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