Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Moths and rust; thieves and customs

As I sat on a box in the back of a delivery van (yeah, not a van for passengers) bracing around every curve and straining for a glimpse of sunlight so as to fight off claustrophobia, I had to laugh out loud: the price we pay for material stuff!

I spent the morning looking for and then working with the customs office to clear my boxes of books, DVD's, etc that would not fit in the two suitcases allocated to each air passenger. After polite customs officers, way too many forint (local currency), and a kind-hearted older man who drove the delivery van, I am now the proud possessor of eight vaguely familiar boxes. (I guess I packed that vase two months ago.)

Now, I've been looking forward to having books to read and movies to watch. Don't get me wrong. That cozy fleece will come in handy this fall. Artwork that used to hang on my walls in Illinois will be welcomed in my new flat. Stuff can be helpful and fun. But now more than ever I am aware of the limits--and often the setbacks--of stuff. Other things are just more important.

Like the kind-hearted man who waited for three hours and carried all my boxes even though I couldn't chat with him in Hungarian, the considerate customs officers who don't have an easy or popular job, my new students, and old friends. Investment in them will never land me in the back of a van and will have an eternal pay-off. So, as I careened backwards through the streets of Budapest (or at least it felt like careening), I got to check my heart's condition. It is nice to have my stuff, but I'll keep my treasure elsewhere.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

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