Is This All There Is?

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In his book, Living with Eternity in Your Heart, Mark Buchanan writes about what I call the “Christmas Paper Blues.” It’s what happens on Christmas morning. Mark says that he even saw it in his children when they reached the age that Christmas morning became the “Day of Getting.” There were mounds of gifts beneath the tree, and his son led the way in that favorite childhood (and, more subtly, adult) game, How Many Are for Me? But the telling moment came Christmas morning when the gifts were handed out. The children ripped through them, shredding and scattering the wrappings like jungle plants before a well-wielded machete. Each gift was beautiful: an intricately laced dress Grandma Christie had sewn, an exquisitely detailed model car Uncle Bob had found at a specialty store on Robson Street in Vancouver, a finely bound and gorgeously illustrated collection of children's classics Aunt Leslie had sent. The children looked at each gift briefly, their interest quickly fading, and then put it aside to move on to the Next Thing. When the ransacking was finished, his son, standing amid a sea of boxes and bright crumpled paper and exotic trappings, asked plaintively, "Is this all there is?"

That’s it! The Christmas Paper Blues. We adults still experience it too. We get to the end of the unwrapping and ask, “Is this all there is?” Now we might not way that out loud, but the chances are good that we feel that way. In a very real way, that question is more than the avaricious cry of an unsatisfied, pampered pouter. It is the longing cry of every human heart. At the end of desire lies a vast desert of unsatisfied longing which will always feel empty at the end of our frenzied gift - opening, and want to ask, “Is this all there is?”

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