Friday, 15 October 2010
Pajama Pockets (And Other Useful Stuff)
What’s up with the pockets in pajamas?
It hit me when I was folding laundry. The pockets drew attention to themselves because they were sticking out–as pockets do–when I pulled the striped pants from the dryer.
I was unthinkingly stuffing them back inside the pants, when I began to giggle. What are these for? Car keys…spare change…a flashlight to improve your aim in the night?
The possibilities were endless.
Somehow I don’t think pajama pockets were a need-driven addition to our sleeping attire. I’m fairly sure none of us would pay more for pj’s with pockets if the non-pocket version were available at a discount. Or would we?
If such a pricing discrepancy did exist, I can only imagine the marketing campaign that would be generated to create a sense of need. Brainstorming sessions would be called to manufacture uses for the pajama pockets. Media campaigns designed to stir sub-conscious desire: The Pocket. Striking male models hired to slide one hand in the pocket while holding a glass of single malt McCallan in the other. The status. The stylish edge. The usefulness. The utter necessity.
Hmmm. I wonder if it’s time for pocket-less pajamas to make their entry so we can finally realize how much we need those pockets after all?
In contrast to such silly needs created in us by outsiders are the real needs that seem to bubble up from within. We experience them as primal, organic, deeply felt longings for something we lack.
They are the spiritual counterpart of the physical needs we’re so familiar with. You come in from a long run and head directly to the tap to refill your water bottle. You return home from a non-stop day and head straight to the refrigerator for the leftover mac n cheese you hope is still there. Our body craves what it lacks, which is why a banana tastes so good when you’re low on potassium.
So with our souls. Our cravings, suppressed by the noise of a busy day, surface in the night. As activity drains away we become aware of the emptiness within. We want so many things–
- to make sense of our lives
- to understand ourselves
- to belong
- to be accepted
- to be known, and to be loved
No marketing campaign created these needs, though many promise to satisfy them. The need is real, but the satisfaction can feel so elusive.
When our needs refuse to be met by the products and services and even the people of this world, they surely point to another world. That is the Christian answer to our real need, as CS Lewis writes in Mere Christianity,
“The Christian says, ‘Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex.”
But what about the unmet needs of our hearts?
“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
Our unmet longings are meant to “bring us to ourselves,” and then send us to that world, as they did for the prodigal Jesus told us about.
“And he was longing to be fed…. But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father…'” Luke 15:16-18
The prodigal returned to the father’s house–a place he had abandoned in his wild search for satisfaction elsewhere. I find I must return often to my Father, from both willful and sub-conscious wanderings.
But for those of us who don’t know the way back, there is One who comes to find us. Jesus came to the village well in Samaria to wait for one thirsty woman to show up looking for water. He knew she would come, and that she would come alone. In fact he knew all about her. That’s why he sent the disciples away and waited for her alone.
And when she came, he invited her to drink.
Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. John 4:14
Jesus is the satisfaction of all our unmet needs. He invites us to come, again and again.