The begonia that I have that is mine

This is one of my begonias.

Of course I admit it is not “mine” in the sense that I did not make it. I well remember sitting in my grandmother’s Sunday school class—I must have been four or five, wearing a little hat and white gloves—singing “Oh who can make a flower? I’m sure I can’t, can you? Oh who can make a flower? No one but God ‘tis true.” So I’ve been clear about that for decades.

But speaking of white gloves, I have a newspaper clipping that shows two white-gloved Sotheby’s employees holding up an original 1895 Edvard Munch painting  that sold at auction in New York on May 2 for $119.9 million—the most money anyone has ever paid for a painting. I guess the anonymous bidder owns that painting.

But “how do we possess a work of art?” asks Josef Pieper. “By buying it or receiving it as a gift? At what point do we ‘get’ anything out of it?”

Legally speaking, the begonia bulbs were a Mother’s Day gifts from my daughters, so I am quite sure that they belong to me as much as the Munch belongs to the winning bidder or the person to whom he gave it.

Practically speaking, I planted the bulbs and watered them (with a bit of help from my girls), so I am steward over them and can therefore call them “mine.” In this same way, whoever dusts Munch’s frame also has the right to say “my painting.”

Spiritually speaking, I am enjoying the begonias. Their beauty increases my happiness, and for that reason I “have” them. We are enriched by everything we enjoy.

Pieper defines happiness as “having what we want.” And what we want is everything: “the whole good.” Happiness is “possession of the whole good.” The whole good is God; the whole good is eternal life. What does it mean to “have” eternal life? To acquire it? To maintain it? To enjoy it?

To one who is thirsty, satisfaction has two components: 1) an available drink, and 2) the act of drinking. Happiness, argues Pieper, is available and must be swallowed. This is the premise of his little book Happiness and Contemplation. At least that’s part of it. There’s much to mine here and I’ve only begun.

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I am a Christian thinker, reader, and writer, who never travels without chocolate. See the “About” page for details.
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4 Responses to "The begonia that I have that is mine"

  1. Shannon @ Distracted by Prayer says:

    Keep sharing! Sounds fascinating.

  2. Hope @ The Flourishing Tree says:

    I love this: “To one who is thirsty, satisfaction has two components: 1) an available drink, and 2) the act of drinking.” You have the blooming begonias (the available drink) and the willingness to enjoy them (the act of drinking). What a great way to think of satisfaction. Thanks, Tracey!

  3. Teri Hyrkas says:

    I wish I could see a picture of you with your hat and little white gloves,Tracey. That would make me happy!
    This is a very thought provoking blog entry. It truly makes me want to read Pieper’s book, “Happiness and Contemplation.” His comment that “happiness is available and is to be swallowed” reminds me of a man I observed who was enjoying a beautiful beachscape. After he had been gazing for several minutes, he stretched his hands out to each side at shoulder height, then brought his hands together as though he were folding something, presumably the ‘picture’ of the beach he admired. Next in this pantomime, he made motions with his hands like one would do when crushing a peice of paper. He then compressed the folded and crushed ‘image’ even further,until it was very small, perhaps the size of an imaginary piece of candy. Finally he tossed the ‘candy’ into his mouth, swallowed, smiled and walked away. Maybe he had read Pieper, too.
    By the way, Tracey, I haven’t seen your new blog posts announced on Facebook, as you have done in the past. Are you not using Facebook any more?

    • Tracey says:

      What a fascinating pantomime! It illustrates this idea perfectly. It reminds me of two times in my life where I wanted to remember a beautiful experience and wished I had a camera. I didn’t, so I intentionally took a mental photograph. Those two mental photos are among my favorite treasures.
      I did try to post this on FB, but I posted the photo and the link separately because I couldn’t figure out how to get them together. Advice?


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