What do we truly treasure?

A pair of hands hoving over the keyboard of a laptop
 on May 30, 2023

The silvery sheen is long gone, replaced by innumerable scratches and a dull finish, bearing the marks of decades of use. No matter. My late mother’s venerable coffee percolator lives on in my home, providing delicious coffee every morning.

I love that old percolator, not just because of the coffee it brews but because it brings back fond memories of Sunday dinner and the coffee savoured by the adults around the table following the obligatory roast beef. As our planet groans under the weight of more and more things, my percolator’s longevity stands out in an era where so many of the things we use last only a few years before being relegated to a landfill site. But most of all, this appliance touches my heart because of the memories linked with it.

Our lives can fill up with “stuff” all too easily, especially as one ages and sooner or later must face the need to downsize. All that stuff challenges us to think hard about a basic question: what do we truly treasure? What makes a meaningful difference in our lives?

For some of us, the answer lies in valuable possessions such as works of art, antique books or fine furniture. But cherished treasures can also be found in items with little monetary value – like an old but beloved coffee percolator.

The possessions with which we surround ourselves express a lot about what we treasure – and say a lot to others about our values. I count myself fortunate to own two powerful paintings of Jesus by artist Michael O’Brien. On my front lawn a “Hands Off the Greenbelt” sign alerts drivers on my busy street of the threat posed by proposed development on a natural treasure within our diocese, Ontario’s Greenbelt.

 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal,” advises Jesus, in a passage most of us know well. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21). Jesus encourages us to focus on living out a life of faith, on our spiritual bank accounts rather than our material ones. His message can help us resist the never-ending calls to buy and instead think about what we can do without. It is a bold, counter-cultural message.

As I write this, another Earth Day has just passed, and the urgency of its message is more compelling now than ever. Heat waves, forest fires, droughts, erratic weather patterns and loss of biodiversity provide alarming signs that we’re not stewarding God’s creation responsibly. We can blame inadequate government policies for our predicament, yet the fact remains that to a great extent we get the governments, and the public policies, that we deserve.

Moreover, what if the heart of the problem is more basic? What if it stems from the values that shape our actions, and thus help shape our public policies as well? And what if those values rest upon what we treasure the most?

Earth Day is long past as you read this. But what if we made every day Earth Day? What can inspire us to make the kinds of changes we need, individually, through our parishes and as a society, to safeguard creation – and protect the futures of our children and grandchildren?

It’s not an easy task. Our diocese’s Bishop’s Committee on Creation Care provides a wealth of action ideas to help us make creation care an integral part of our worship, life and witness. See its resources at

I am inspired by the vow in our order of service based on the Anglican Communion’s Five Marks of Mission, which challenges us: “Will you strive to safeguard the integrity of God’s creation and respect, sustain and renew the life of the Earth?” I try to take to heart the answer we give: “I will, with God’s help.”

Inspiration to do more to safeguard God’s creation can also come from reflecting on the frugality of the generations that came before us – and from something as simple as a durable coffee percolator.


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