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Can’t Buy Me Love

Forever I will sing the wonders of your love, YHWH,

proclaiming your faithfulness to all generations!

I’ll tell them that your love stands firm forever,

your fidelity is fixed in the heavens. ~ Psalm 89:1-2

How much would you pay to see a bird? On Sunday, I saw my first Pine Siskins in Maine. It was one of the more exciting sightings I’ve had in a while, particularly being just a couple of blocks from my house. And it cost me $5! Well, not exactly, although I did give that amount to the Audubon Society, which feels like a charge for “privilege” of participating in the annual Christmas Bird Count. It is actually a donation, since it would be odd to require anyone to pay to get up in the cold darkness of a December morning to chase owls in the dark and walk miles in the cold. Still, it does seem like a tough crowd to solicit, doesn’t it?

I suppose that it is similar to looking for volunteers by asking the busiest people first. As counter-intuitive as that seems, anyone who has spent considerable time seeking volunteers will tell you that the best person to get something done is the person already showing commitment by doing lots of other things. Of course, there are limits to time, so willing doesn’t always mean able. The same is true of treasure, even though it is limited, the most generous people are often those with the least, probably because those with a lot got that way by not giving it away. While it is true that money can’t buy happiness, research has shown that if you have $5 and you spend it on yourself that you won’t find as much satisfaction as spending it on someone else. In fact, if you are being asked to give, that is an indication that you are seen as at least a potentially generous person, so take it as the compliment that it is.

While time and treasure have limits and thus can be hoarded, that is not true of the other gift you might give, talent. We each have unique gifts, but one we all share is the ability to love. Love involves an exchange, but not a transaction. If you attempt to bargain this for that, you are no longer truly loving. Likewise, if you attempt to hoard your gifts then there is no exchange and thus no love. It can be summed up with wisdom from Beatles lyrics. Not only cannot you not buy love (or happiness for that matter) but the love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay. Love isn’t love until you give it away.

Prayer: O Love, flow through us in your power to connect us in ways that reveal your presence. Amen.


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