The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart (1901)/Chapter 46



(To be Content with what a Man has is True Wealth.)

The world is full of Marthas, who run and wander to and fro, toil, and scrape silver together from all directions, and yet never have enough. But these holy men have a different nature; each of them sits quietly at the feet of his Lord, and this, and what he receives therethrough, is sufficient to him. He holds the grace of God that resides within him as the most precious treasure; in this alone he finds delight; external things which the world calls riches he considers as a burden rather than a gain, yet they use them for the necessities of life—for the necessities only, I say. Therefore, whether the Lord God grants each of them little or much, each of them says that he has enough. They verily believe, and put their trust therein, that they are under God's protection, and therefore think it unseemly to desire anything beyond that which God has granted them.

2. Now I beheld here a wondrous thing. There were some among these holy men who had an ample supply of riches, silver, gold crowns, and sceptres (for there are such men also among God's chosen); others had scarcely anything beyond a half-naked body, that was dried up by hunger and thirst. Yet the former said they had nothing, and the latter said they had everything, and both were of good cheer. And then I understood that he is truly rich and in want of nothing who knows how to be content with that which he has. To have a large, a small, or no house, costly, poor, or no clothing, many friends or one, or none, high rank, low rank, or no rank, to have or not to have rank or office or glory, generally to be something or to be nothing, is to them one and the same thing; for as man must believe that to go, to stand, to sit wherever God leads, or places, or seats him is the only truly good thing, better even than man can imagine.

3. Oh, blessed and most desirable abundance! How happy are those who are rich in this fashion! For though some may appear wretched and miserable in the eyes of the world, yet are they a thousand times better provided, even as regards external things, than the rich men of the world; for these who are their own purveyors are, with their goods, exposed to thousands of accidents; fire, water, rust, theft, and so forth may deprive them of them. But the holy men who have God as their purveyor ever find with Him an inexhaustible store for all their wants. He daily feeds them from His store-rooms, clothes them from His chamber, gives them from His treasury that which they require for their expenditure; not, indeed, in great abundance, but all that is seemly and sufficient. He does this not according to the minds of men, but according to His providence, on which they rely a thousand times more readily than on their minds.