It is commanded: Thou shalt not covet.
Not they neighbors’ possessions, nor those in his pay, nor those bound to him by love. Nor envy that they possesses more than we. For we have not earned nor been given them.
Yet this is another type of coveting. Ironically, one built on admiration, the envy of another’s talents, and the wish they were ours.
We wish we could paint as our friend, the artist. Or earn plaudits as a cook, a ballplayer, a speaker, an immaculate housekeeper, the business executive. We feel diminished by our own supposed lack of talent.
O Lord, let each one see there is no personal without talent. We all have skills; we all have aptitudes. We each can do something that will enhance our own feeling of accomplishment.
We need not envy another. We need only to find our own.
Help us O Lord to search out our skills and guide us to their development.
Even though my grandmother saw herself as ordinary, and maybe at times, less than adequate as a wife, mother, daughter, or housewife, she had talents that many, even to this day, covet. She was an extraordinary writer and philosopher, along with an unselfish advocate for family members who sought her counsel during times-of-need.
A few weeks ago, her son, Allen Ridnor, passed away. My initial thought was she was lonely in heaven, and wanted one of her son to join her. It was a ridiculous thought. After all, for the past year, Allen had been struggling with health issues, finally succumbing to aggressive acute leukemia.
After learning of Allen’s death, I contacted his wife of nearly 60 years. She asked that I send a few words in his memory. Not knowing what to write, I sought my grandmother’s help. I located a bankers box of her papers, and after a little searching found a diary she kept in 1953.
For the most part, my grandmother wrote little about her family. The diary I found was a treasure trove of tidbits about her everyday life from waking up on chilly mornings to lamenting the summer heat, questioning her parenting skills, shopping for a new outfit, visiting family, or contemplating a pressing social issue.
A few pages into the diary, she wrote about babysitting my cousin, Bobby, who was around two at the time. She claimed “I haven’t changed any since my own baby-sitting days. I still don’t know how to play with children and entertain them! I feel so self-conscious attempting to sing to them or get down to their level.”
Decades later, however, she had no objections to climbing under a dining room table, and playing Barbie dolls with her granddaughter Jenny. And from a maternal point-of-view, she was more of a mother to me than my own mother.
Yesterday, while typing this invocation, my step-daughter Stacey, was thumbing through the stack of invocations, in awe of the profound wisdom contained in them. She snapped a couple with her smart phone to later read and reflect on their wisdom.
My grandmother had no need to covet what others had, especially with her own enviable talents.