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Relationships, the Glue of Life

The ancient city of Pompeii lies at the foot of at the foot of Mt. Vesuvius in Italy. For years Pompeii was a flourishing port and a prosperous trading city. However, in 79 AD, an eruption of Mt. Vesuvius buried Pompeii under cinders and ashes that preserved their ruins. According to a story I heard from Glenna Salsbury, 1997-98 President of National Speakers Association, most of the 20,000 dwellers escaped, but about 2,000 were left behind and perished.

The ruins of Pompeii were discovered in 1748 and archeological excavations have revealed the habits and cultural practices of the dwellers. Some of those who perished were grasping personal or family treasures. A man?s skeleton was found clutching a beautiful bronze statue. A woman?s skeleton held a bunch of jewels, and a couple held a wooden hatch filled with treasures.

This scenario comes to mind every time I get unexpected mail, fax or e-mail on how to be successful. The messages emphasize how much money to make, where to go for vacation, what kind of house and neighborhood to live in, what model of car to drive or what treasure to buy for loved ones. These things are measures of success in our times.

Different cultures and generations have had different measures of success. In my grandfather?s days, a big piece of land and large herds of livestock, not stocks, were measures of success. In some cultures, the number of storage barns one had for yams was a measure of success. Body size, in particular being overweight, was and still is a reflection of how successful one is in some cultures.

Our generation did not initiate material possessions as a measure of success. However, in many cultures, success had another angle; happiness in one?s life and in the lives of those held dear. These cultures, while stripped of modern measures of success, have intact and thriving relationships. Family ties are their social security, and the well-being of the youth is their assurance for a bright future.

Material possessions do make life easier, but they cannot provide inner peace. One?s search for the meaning of life, fulfillment, identity and worth can not be achieved through possessions. Ponder this. Money can buy a bed, but it can?t make you fall asleep in that bed. It can buy the best food, but not the appetite to enjoy the food. Money can buy a house, but not a peaceful and happy home. It can buy medicine, but not healing. Money may provide the means of prolonging life, but it?s purse can do nothing to assure eternal life.

Relationships with God, family and community is what matters. That?s the glue of life. There is one ingredient for solid relationships?love for God and fellow human beings. The three enduring virtues are faith, hope and love. The Bible says, ?The greatest of these is love.? It is that love that motivates us to care, have compassion, forgive and provide a crying shoulder for wounded souls.

It is love that develops from the basics of life and is not based on the artificiality of material gain.

The story of Pompeii brings back memories of my loved ones who have passed on. I know that what my heart cherishes most is the quality times we spent together. We made and told personal stories together. We came through triumphs and disappointments. We took trips and shared hand-me-down items. We made family rules and then changed them as our family?s needs evolved. Memories of cherished relationships are treasures that lighten the hearts of our loved ones, when our lives are petrified in life?s catastrophes like the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.

The scriptures say, ?Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.? If Mt. Vesuvius were to erupt in our front yard today, what would we hold on to as a demonstration of the memoirs of our hearts? treasures?

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