Riches of the Heart

Hank Mattimore
August 5, 2005
Reproduced with Permission

When I want to challenge myself to grow into a better person, I find few authors who can reach me as powerfully as Anthony DeMello, a Jesuit priest from India. He once told a story about an ambitious young husband who was laying out his career plans to his wife. I'm going to work hard, honey, and someday we're going to be rich. The man's wife looked at him with love and replied, "We are already rich, dear, for we have each other. Someday, maybe we'll have money."

Living in a society that puts such a premium on material wealth, it is good to remind ourselves that what truly makes us rich is our relationships. Our bonds with parents, spouse, children, siblings and friends are our most valuable possessions. The moments when we experience real intimacy with another human being, the times when we feel absolutely free to be ourselves with our close friends or when we relive childhood moments with a brother or sister, or see understanding in the eyes of a friend; these are the riches of relationships that make our material; stuff seem like nothing in comparison.

I asked a lawyer who had volunteered three years of his life to work among very poor people in Zambia what he had learned from Zambian people. He replied simply, "I learned from them that you can be very happy without having a lot of things." I have talked to countless older people in this country who lived through the great depression and they echo the same sentiments. One couple told me, "We had so little, it was almost laughable. Yet, we pulled together and raised a family." They hastened to add, "It wasn't just a matter of survival either. Those were the happiest days of our lives."

I know that there are those who will dismiss these stories as Pollyannaish. They think to themselves, "Yea! Yea! That's all warm and cuddly, but show me the money. I want to shake them and say "Don't you get it that, no, it's not about money at all." "Money," as a friend of mine used to tell me, "is a handy thing not to be without." That's all. It has its place but we really don't need much of the stuff our money buys, do we? Rich is an attitude of the mind. It's a kiss from your sweetheart, a hug from your grand child, the satisfaction you get back from giving of yourself to others. Rich is loving and being loved. In the end, it's all about relationships, baby.