One of Ted's five brothers has an old friend who regularly plays basketball with the richest man in the world...okay, just the richest man in Oregon. They wanted to get together and play with full teams, so Ted was invited to join a team for a game this past Sunday. They finish these games off with a cook-out, so the families were invited as well, including me and Abe.
We drove the hour out to this estate and discovered that Mr. Richest Man in Oregon (hereby referred to as RMiO) has built an indoor basketball court in an old barn. But not just any old barn. This place is spectacular, complete with a full bath/shower and loft from which one can slide down on a fire station pole. The guys started the game, and all us women and children drove up the hill, past gorgeous orchards, to pass the afternoon at the house.
We arrived at what looked like an old Tuscan estate. We parked our cars at the five car garage and walked in to this spectacular place. I've been in some nice places in my life, but this house blows them all out of the water. I've never seen anything like it. We ended up sitting outside for a couple of hours at the pool, which is sandwiched between a complete guesthouse (with two baths, flat-screen tv, etc.) and a garden so perfect that not a blade of grass was out of place.
To her credit, the lady of the house was very easy to talk to, in spite of my having no frame of reference for knowing how to respond to someone whose daily life involves the management of gardeners, nannies, two global companies, and trips around the world, including her most recent trip to the Beijing Olympics. As I sat in this idyllic space with three other women and three children, my mind kept drifting to Italy...and then to thoughts of heaven.
I never really felt envious of RMiO and his wife...I just fought back the urge to ask if I could come stay in their guest house for a night...or month. Ted and I spent our honeymoon in Italy, staying at night in a convent (it was the only place in town with a room, which we only managed to get thanks to our friend Staci who was there in the same small town doing a language course and thus had the ability to speak with these Italian nuns...this is a whole other story in itself though) and spending our days doing very little except eating, drinking, and looking at all the beauty. We talked about how this is what heaven might look like for Ted. My heaven needs to have a bit of Scotland in it, though Ted's Italian one is nothing to shake a stick at.
I found it interesting that within the span of 24 hours, we'd been exposed to pretty much the two most distant poles in the spectrum of the human experience on this earth. First, we saw the poorest of the poor struggling to find clean drinking water in Kenya and Ethiopia. The next day, we're sitting by a pool at the estate of the RMiO.
The whole thing got me thinking about where my treasure is. In that spectrum, I'm so much closer to RMiO than I am to the thirsty and poor, even though while I was sitting by their pool in my thrift store clothes, I felt pretty distant. I think I got a "healthy dose of perspective" that day, and I want to hold on to that feeling. Jesus spent the bulk of His time among the poor; they are where His heart is. I want to be the same, and it got me thinking all kinds of thoughts about giving everything away and letting go of things I see as "necessities," like my morning cup of fancy, organic coffee or the upstairs remodel we've been hoping to do.
In light of eternity, these things don't matter. This stuff is my earthly treasure, things that aren't going to last. If I really truly honest-to-God believe in heaven and Jesus making all things right, then what the heck am I doing bemoaning the fact that my 4-year-old pair of tevas are wearing out? Why am I not giving away more of my time, money, energy, talents, and heart to the poor, the ones closest to God's heart? What am I doing for "the least of these?" I've really gotta get with it.
I'm not saying anything new here. I guess this is sort of like the Christian's mid-life-crisis. Instead of having an affair, going on a fancy vacation, or buying an expensive pair of Minolos (okay, way too many Sex and the City reruns in my life, my favorite love-to-hate show), I'm entertaining thoughts of selling it all and signing up to build wells in east Africa until I die. I can get my new tevas in heaven. I know there's gonna be mansions there, but won't there be tevas too?