Soon to die of an assassin’s bullet, Louisiana Governor Huey Long’s last words were, “God, don’t let me die. I have so much to do.” Foolishly, he thought more time was the answer. It is not. If we were given ten extra years of health, or twenty, it would not be enough to get everything done. Our imaginations create many more new things we want to get done for every one we complete. We don’t need more time. But what do we need? What should we pray for?
Similar reasoning applies to money. I once heard of a survey in which most people said they only needed 40 percent more income to be meet their wants, not millions. Trouble is, this opinion was shared by people in every income category. People felt they needed more money regardless of how much they had. Those earning $35,000/year were no more happy than those earning $25,000/year. Those earning $70,000/year were no more happy than those earning $50,000/year. We don’t need more money. But what do we need? What should we pray for?
A good spiritual exercise might be to create a budget — time or money or both — with 20 percent less than we have now. What would life be like? Could we be satisfied with 20 percent less? 30 percent? 50 percent? Others get by on less. Why can’t we?
There is the Christian teaching that only one thing is important, love. In 2019, I wrote the following, which still resonates with me:
For every one thing we do, ten thousand things are left undone. While one pursuit rejoices in our attention, ten thousand tiny voices cry out in anger and anguish for us to hurry to them, for us to reassess our priorities in their favor, for us to be their servants. Who can serve ten thousand would-be masters whining and scratching at our back doors wanting in to be fed? One voice reaches our ears. Love floats in on a breeze and beckons us forward. Sunshine glows on the path before us. Our hearts rise up, sing, and follow.