Poverty, Possessions, and Happiness

I’m not a big poetry guy.

I try to be, but if I’m honest I don’t understand it as easily as I understand prose. Reading poetry is sometimes like trying to draw water from a well that’s deeper than my rope and bucket can reach.

But every once in a while I’ll come across a poem that quenches my thirst, like I did last summer while I was on vacation.

My family and I rented an Airbnb in the mountains of Virginia, and one rainy night I started thumbing through the books the cabin’s owner had left for guests and came across a thick, textbook-like poetry book. In it I uncovered a poem that stopped my outward search for entertainment and jump-started some serious introspection.

The poem was Ezra Pound’s “Salutation,” which hooks you right away with the opening lines:

“O GENERATION of the thoroughly smug / and thoroughly uncomfortable…”

Sounds like is, doesn’t it? The narrator then goes on to explain to the reader how he’s seen some of the greatest happiness among some of the poorest people, then he finishes with this thought:

“And I am happier than you are, / And they were happier than I am;  / And the fish swim in the lake / and do not even own clothing.”

Wow! The moment I read those words I was flooded with conviction, because far too often I’m the one who finds myself chasing happiness in success rather than celebrating the good gifts God has already placed in my hands.

Listen: Stuff will never satisfy you, because once you get what you want you’ll almost immediately start craving more.

Remember these words from the scriptures:

“He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 5:10 ESV).

and

“Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God” (Luke 12:21 NLT).

In Christ alone can we not only experience salvation, but satisfaction too.

Advertisements