(Trigger warning: This devotion describes a near death experience in some detail. It may be distressing if you’ve experienced something like this!)

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

Luke 12:20

Jesus tells a parable about a rich man who accumulated all kinds of stuff, and then died. The moral? You can’t take it with you!

But here’s my twist on the story: What if that rich man died, and then was resuscitated? What if he lost his very life, and then got it back. Would he view all his stuff the same way?

Well, that’s what happened to this fool.

Two days after a difficult but successful septal myectomy (open heart surgery where they cut out an overgrown part of the heart), I was being helped out of bed, and one of the wires connected to a temporary pacemaker slipped out of my heart.

I died! Right then and there, my heart stopped beating, and were it not for a particularly strong nurse named Kris, my body would have crashed to the floor.

Instantly a team was there. They worked on me, paddled me, and brought me back. They implanted a permanent pacemaker and difribrilator, and intubated me to make sure my brain hadn’t suffered too much oxygen deprivation.

As traumatic as this was for me to go through, it was scary for everyone present, this sudden and dramatic code blue. I heard from many of the people who had been there, how close a call it had been. My wife was one of them.

We made the decision early on to talk openly about what happened. It was a good call, as it has helped us to minimize the long-term trauma such an experience can create. Still, on top of my daily rehab, the notion of having died, even for what may have been less than a minute, has left me with a lot of physical and mental work to do.

One of my challenges is my relationship to my stuff. My attachment to people is as strong and valuable as ever, but as I come back into this precious life of mine, I find it hard to reattach to things. Tangible things, like my phone, television, books, even food (!) seems to have lost their luster.

And I miss it! It turns out that human beings need things to keep them grounded in this material world. Maybe not an over-abundance of things, but tangible things that help anchor us to the world around us.

Buddhists talk about detachment as the goal of life. To live without the need for those anchors. I get that, and it’s a noble pursuit, I’m sure. Me? I’m longing for reattachment. Where sitting down and watching a movie gives me some joy and helps me relax. Where all the moments that make up a day are aided by the few props we humans like to keep around us.

Maybe the fool in Jesus’ parable would have returned to his life with a new attitude towards all his stuff. I don’t know. As for me, I have a new perspective on my stuff. I see the value in it. Some of it, anyway. As my rehabilitation continues, I’ll need those props to ground me and tie me to the real world.

They say a fool and his money (stuff) are soon parted. As for this fool, I’m learning that life is more than an idea, or even a mission. Life needs stuff. In moderation.

You can’t take it with you…

So don’t take it for granted.

Have a great week,