A Solid Wooden Bowl, Beautifully Carved

Today’s reflection is by Bondings 2.0 contributor Maka Black Elk.

Today’s liturgical readings for the 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time can be found here.

“Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.” (Lk 12:21)

When I was a young child I went to a wedding with my family. The ceremony was done in our traditional Lakota way. The man and woman sat together on a buffalo robe on the open ground. They fed each other sacred food of pemmican and chokecherry juice. The spiritual leader spoke, blessed them, and tied a leather cord around their wrists, binding them together as a couple. Then, as was the custom, they walked together into their home while the rest of the community celebrated.

I remember the wedding gift my mother gave to the young couple: a solid wooden bowl, beautifully carved. She told them, “This wooden bowl is given as a prayer in hope that you will always have a home and have the ability to feed your family and have abundance to offer food to others.” Part of the message of the gift was that we have a responsibility to give to others and share our homes since we have been blessed to have them.

As a young boy who already knew in my heart that I was gay, I didn’t know if I could ever be in that situation. I didn’t know if it would be possible to build a home with a partner. I didn’t even know if it was something that would be good in the eyes of God. Would I ever be given a bowl like that with a partner with whom I was building a life together? If that happened, what would I be able to share with others?

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus tells the parable of a rich man who hoards his wealth and goods far beyond his needs. God says to the rich man, “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?” (Lk 12:20) This message reminds us of the importance of care for our fellow human beings. To hoard one’s wealth is to deprive others. What will become of your possessions anyway if they are not shared in the world we currently live in?

The wooden bowl tells us the same message. To be rich in what matters to God is to share ourselves and our belongings. To take our abundance and offer it to others.

In the LGBTQ+ community, this can’t be taken for granted. Some have experienced being unhoused. Others imagine a life destined for loneliness. We would do well to take heed to Jesus’s words and always be sure to share our abundance with each other, especially with those in most need.

Today I think of that bowl and know that it is possible. With or without a partner, I can build a home and share my abundance. That bowl will remind me that I too can be rich in what matters to God.

Maka Black Elk, July 31, 2022

2 replies
  1. Duane Sherry
    Duane Sherry says:

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. May the Holy Spirit continue to fill your life with gifts beyond measure!

  2. Anne M Hilofsky
    Anne M Hilofsky says:

    What a beautiful writing. Thank you for sharing your heritage and your struggles. I pray I may learn to share my bowl as you do.


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