Life has no thumb drives

I received an ad from Office Depot just in time for the start of Lent: 40% off USB Flash drives; 2GB or more, it said in the fine print. I looked through the drives and sure enough, the 4GB and 8GB are within price reach. And I suspect, by year’s end we will see standards of 64GB or even 128GB.

What does this mean? Well basically, everything that you’ve been storing on your laptop’s hard drive can now be conveniently placed on an electronic stick and toted on your key chain, around your neck or in your pocket.

I remember when those small (3.5”) floppies were marketed for their size. Before those, my first hard drive – a 5MB Apple drive – was the size of two large Yellow Pages books put together. By today’s standards, it held only the equivalent of two photographs taken on a nice pocket digital camera. But back then, I never imagined I’d fill up that hard drive. But I did. And later, I filled my 20MB drive. Then came the ads for the Zip Drive, “Store more stuff!” and I did. And along the way, with each subsequent generation of technology, I was relieved that my excesses didn’t have to be jettisoned during the migration to a new computer or new hard drive; rather, I could take along and store them safely in folders buried in folders. And I know I’m not alone in my feelings of relief. Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have all developed search utilities just for this purpose: to find those bits and pieces from our past that we refuse to clean up or throw out.

So now today – thank God – we can store more, save more and protect more. We really don’t have to deal with cleaning or clearing up. Wouldn’t life be great if we could do the same with all of our “stuff?” But like the poor fool in Luke 12:13-21* discovered, you only get one chance at life. So you better make sure you prioritize your lists and keep those things that are necessary.

Lent is a proactive experience. You have a chance to clear out your memory and your baggage. It’s a time to really bring life down to the bare essentials. What does it really take to live? You know how the questions go… If you had a fire in your home – what would you take with you? If you were stranded on a desert island, what 10 CD’s would you want there to comfort you? If your hard drive crashed, and you had a chance to recover only 10 files, what would they be? These questions are reactive.

Lent is proactive: before things get bad, slow down, lighten up and live. What are the 10 files that are most important to you? Which relationships move you closer to your humanity? What are the things that you would want to present to God at the final check out? What is necessary to exist? What is necessary to survive? What is necessary to live be happy, i.e., live?

Lent is the time to inventory your inner drive. It’s a time to move some of the bones and garbage to the trash bin. Some files don’t even open up with today’s software, you know? Let’s start with those, at the very least.

Ultimately, you have to do your own inventorying. No one else can do it for you. That’s the way we begin the Lenten journey. What a great time we’ve been given.

* Luke 12:13 And one out of the multitude said unto him, Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me. 12:14 But he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? 12:15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and keep yourselves from all covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. 12:16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: 12:17 and he reasoned within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have not where to bestow my fruits? 12:18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my grain and my goods. 12:19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, be merry. 12:20 But God said unto him, Thou foolish one, this night is thy soul required of thee; and the things which thou hast prepared, whose shall they be? 12:21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. Luke 12:13-21 ASV

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