Having read Little House in the Big Woods, my mackerdoodle has now, in her trademark fashion, begun peppering me with questions that begin with, “If Laura Ingalls were here, what would she think of [insert random place/item/event here.]?” It is a thought provoking way of looking at the world, and it has opened my eyes to the levels of extravagant opulence in which we really live.
For instance, we have a large number of whole chickens sitting in a freezer in our garage, just waiting to be eaten at our convenience. They are joined by a large selection of bagged, frozen vegetables. I don’t have to salt or smoke or dry things in order to preserve them for the winter ahead. I just freeze them and thaw them later. This has only been a reliable form of food preservation for less than 100 years, and is still not available to the parts of the world in which electricity is largely unreliable. What a tremendous luxury! Ma Ingalls would have loved such an option in her many cabins.
The house we are renting sits on 25ish acres and since the hay has been cut, the children have been flying kites up in the fields where the wind comes off the valley and the highway and goes for a run behind the house. In most of human history, and indeed, in most of the contemporary world, having that much land left open for luxuries like flying kites, is a privilege reserved for monarchs and despots, not the children of country preachers.
School has started for us this week and as I sat down with my plans and my goals and my new books, I realized that this, too, is a luxury. For a family to be able to dedicate one parent to the education of the children is a sign of our relative and societal wealth. It does not require all members of the family to labor for most of the day just to provide the basic necessities of food, shelter and clothing. Instead we can read and write and learn together of times and places in which it has not been so. A machine washes our clothes as we read about wind and build kites to fly in our opulent meadow. I take food from my freezer for lunch instead of walking to the market to barter what we have for a little bit of what we may need. The children can sit at my feet and complain lightly about their tasks instead of spending their days searching out clean (or less dirty) water to bring back to the family, or searching for fuel to keep the fire lit so that we can cook and clean and live. What a privilege. What a luxury.
I have been busy for a few days, and grumbling in my tasks. I have resented the tasks as onerous, instead of seeing the extraordinary prosperity they represent. I have coveted while all the time living a life that someone like Ma Ingalls would have not been able to imagine, let alone wish for. The Lord has inexplicably placed me in a time and place of milk and honey, and I grumble that I cannot “sit by the meat pots and eat bread.” The Lord has used my mackerdoodle’s questions to remind my grumbling, covetous heart of the true lavishness of His provision to me, and that, in all things, is the greatest privilege of all.