What makes you feel rich?

There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza

There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, a hole…
(Complete lyrics here.)

The gist of the song is this: Liza responds to her husband Henry’s complaint about the bucket with a suggestion for fixing it. Henry explains why her suggestion won’t work. Liza offers another suggestion. Henry makes another excuse.

By the end of the song you want Liza to snatch the bucket out of Henry’s hand and beat him senseless with it.And that’s how we live. Striving to fill buckets with holes, or trying to patch the holes with people, goods, activities, and all manner of things, so that we can feel, for a moment, satiated. Rich.

When was the last time you felt rich?

Fill in the blank: I could never have too much ____________________ .

The “blank” is what drives you. It’s what compels you, urges you to push and prod to go out and hunt and gather again and again. Like a serial killer with a thirst for blood.

Your “blank” is a hole in your bucket.

For many of us, that blank should be filled in with the word “stuff.” We think we’re okay because we’re not addicted to cigarettes, or alcohol, or illicit drugs, or sex, or food, or any of the popular modern addictions. But we’re just as controlled and abused by our lust for “stuff” as any heroin junkie shooting up in an abandoned warehouse somewhere. Consider…

  • Why did Solomon-the richest man of all time-end up with 700 wives and 300 concubines?
  • What drove Tiger Woods to keep adding to his list of mistresses?
  • Why do Americans have storage units for their storage units?
  • Why does the average house (and the average American) keep getting bigger and bigger every year?

The hole in the bucket.

Now, ask yourself again, when was the last time you felt rich? It’s time we expand our understanding of the word beyond just “having a lot of money and possessions.”

Rich also means “having enough, abundantly supplied” (my closet is abundantly supplied… but I rarely think of it that way).
Rich can refer to being productive or fertile. I’m not touching the fertility thing with a ten foot pole, but to be productive, to create something or accomplish a task, that’s rich.
Rich can describe something that is “full in tone, strong in color, or vivid.” Can you picture a big Italian family gathered in the kitchen for a Sunday meal? That’s rich.

Rich means different things to different people, at different phases of life. For a new mom, a full night’s sleep is rich. For an elderly person in a nursing home, rich might be a visit from the local Girl Scout troop for a singalong. Or it might be acing a test, getting a great assignment at work, or spending a lazy day immersed in a work of fiction. For the city dweller, rich is pure mountain air and skies sprinkled with stars. For the country dweller, rich is the arc of lights glowing above a city that never sleeps and the endless supply of entertainment and activity.

Go back to your bucket. The good news is you don’t have to fill it! You don’t even have to patch the hole. Throw out your holey bucket. Clean up the ocean of gunk that’s gathered underneath it, and start living again. Find the riches of life in each and every moment you have — color, tone, productivity, abundance. You are rich. You just don’t know it yet. 

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3 thoughts on “What makes you feel rich?

  1. Niki Turner says:

    I don't know if the song was in a musical. I learned it as a children's song when my kids were little, and I think it's quite a bit older than that. Now I'm curious!

  2. Patti Lacy says:

    I could never have too much…of God's Word. The more I fill myself with God's immeasurable wisdom and love, the less I need to dip in worldly pails.

    What beautiful writing and a lovely analogy.

    Now you've got me hummin' that song…


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