A Final Toast

I ran into a chum tonight quite by “accident” and both took time to update each other’s lives as it had been a long arc of time between connections. My friend is in real estate and purchases old homes, fixes them up and resells them for a tidy profit. He was telling me about a house he had just closed on, its previous owner obviously a buyer of fine wines based upon the stash he found. The man had passed and his daughter was needing to sell it and my buddy was only too happy to oblige, considering the price of said home too good to pass on.

Going into its basement, he found it stacked and stocked with fine wines, each one gathering dust from years of neglect and non-use. The owner, he had learned, had traveled the world visiting some of the finest vineyards and purchasing huge draughts of wine. My friend also found receipts among the ruins where the old man had run up some pretty serious tabs pursuing his life’s passion. Trouble is, the old man is dead and the wine lies in state, corked and wearing coats of mold and dust. Untasted. Suddenly it hit my friend: this could have been what Jesus had in mind when he said, “What profit is it for a man, if he should gain the world and lose his soul?”*


Of course, we know nothing of the man’s spiritual standing in life but how sad it is to spend your life and coffers on transitory things whose undignified ending is to occupy a place in a cold dark cellar, unseen, untouched and untasted.

On the drive home I heard that we Americans are spending less time sleeping, working longer hours, stalking the “dream” at the expense of our families, our bodies and our souls. We’re giving away FAR less, building our barns bigger** so we can sit around, I suppose, bragging to the Joneses that our barns, for pete’s sake, have vaulted ceilings, wrap-around decking, eight-tractor garages, bonus rooms, dormers, atriums, finished basements, plasma TVs in every stable, spreading manicured lawns, high palatial walls to keep out the riff-raff and that we’re working on drawings for further expansion. Our ‘barns‘, mind you.

How much wood can a woodchuck chuck? Forget that. How about: how much wine can a connoisseur drink? And for that matter, how much is too much or more than enough? Tolstoy wrote a short story on that very subject entitled, “How Much Land Does A Man Need?” and here is its summary as found in a Wikipedia entry:

“After slowly accumulating more and more property, a greedy Russian named Pahom hears that the Bashkirs, a minority race in Russia, are practically giving their land away. He decides to visit them and they offer him as much land as he wants, provided he can walk its perimeter in one day. Pahom agrees and goes out on his trek, but when the sun starts to set, he finds he has walked too far. Running back, Pahom collapses at the starting point just as the sun disappears behind the horizon. The Bashkirs try to congratulate him, only to find him dead. In answer to the question posed in the title, the Bashkirs bury him in a hole six feet long by two feet wide.”

What’s left of a man who chases the illusive wind of transitory pleasure? In this case, a dank, dark cellar littered with unused magnums of wine. And we call that living.

*Matthew 16:26

**Luke 12:15-21


7 thoughts on “A Final Toast

  1. Mandy Houk says:

    We moved from Southern California to Colorado and were so glad to escape the race to own the biggest, best, and most beautiful. Only we didn’t. Granted, it’s not as pervasive here, but that race is a human nature thing, not just a So Cal thing. We got caught up ourselves and bought the big, brand new house where we got to choose the colors of the walls, the carpet, the counters. I thought it would be so nice to live in a house that needed absolutely no fixing-up! No “dated” light fixtures, no cracks in the paint. But you know what? It’s not that great. This house has no soul, really. It’s like a pretty mannequin. So … less than a year later, we are moving to a smaller, less expensive house. The light fixtures are shiny brass and glass, the appliances are definitely not the latest models. The wood stain around the windows is flaking off, begging to be sanded. And I am so excited to get there, to be truly comfortable and at home, to have the extra money to use for eternal things rather than temporal.

    I guess I had to have it all for a moment to realize I don’t actually want it!


  2. J.Thomas says:

    Such a waste.

    I could’ve brought over a few loaves of bread and we could’ve served up a whizbanger of a “communion service” for the whole neighborhood!



  3. April says:

    merely “chasing the wind”, think we all do it from time to time


  4. pasturescott says:

    Mandy, we also had a ‘dream house’ some years ago…everything our little hearts desired. We were able to design it from the ground up, it had all the conveniences and was completely handicapped-accessible. Long story short, the Lord called us to a ministry about 45 minutes away and while we did the commute for awhile, we knew the Lord was calling us ‘away’. The house sold in 36 hours (no surprise there) and when we drove away, we never even looked in our rearview mirror! Shortened story shorter: we’ve been in this humble cottage in a declining subdivision since ’93, “getting by” without certain conveniences and we’ve never been happier! We relate to all you said…praise the Lord!


  5. pasturescott says:


    J, I’ll keep you posted. Remember, the guy in the story is a VERY good friend…


  6. pasturescott says:

    April, speak for yourself…(just kidding!)…I catch myself running out of breath chasing wind ever so often…


  7. J.Thomas says:

    Wind, Spirit, Breath…

    All the same word!



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