Today’s reading from 2 Corinthians 4:7 tells us that “we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.” It brought to mind one of my favorite hymns, Earthen Vessels by John Foley, SJ (1975, 1991).
We hold a treasure, not made of gold,
in earthen vessels, wealth untold;
One treasure only: the Lord, the Christ,
in earthen vessels.
Looking out from my lanai, I was thinking about the earth and earthen vessels, and humming the refrain of Earthen Vessels, when the sounds of heavy machinery interrupted. Just when I was becoming reconciled to seeing houses to the left as I look from the lanai, there were two “earthmovers” digging up the land that lies straight ahead. There will be new houses in my direct line of sight. It will be very hard to see the trees come down — actually ripped out of the earth. The marsh, the bird sanctuary, this lanai — all handpicked for me by the God who called me to this place — will be replaced by human habitation.
I am happy that people have opportunities to build and to move to this “paradise” as I did more than five years ago, but NIMBY — NOT IN MY BACKYARD! I am not happy with this change in my life over which I have no control.
Yet, it causes me to reflect on all those times we say NIMBY. We want affordable and low-income housing, drug rehabilitation centers, and half-way houses in our community, but NIMBY. We want to welcome immigrants and migrant workers, but NIMBY. I think, too, of the times I invite God into my life. I want God in my general area, but NIMBY — not so close that I have to let go of my desire to control and direct the changes in my life.
How will the reflections from my lanai change when the landscape changes? Will I still see and hear God in the midst of a busy, noisy world? What happens when the boundaries of my comfort zone are moved by something or someone else? Will I be able to say Y(es)IMBY?