By James Dillet Freeman

To enjoy things is not to possess them or to be possessed by them, but to use them. The joy of anything is the use of it.

Rows of dresses hanging dusty in a closet, dresses no one wears any longer; tools slowly rusting in a tool shed, where no one comes to work; books that have gotten yellow and brittle with age because no loving hand ever touches them or opens their pages; or a house in which no one has lived for a long time—there are few things sadder than these.

The joy is not to have a shining plane in your tool chest, but to take the plane out and plane a board with it until the board is flat and smooth and true.

To do this is to know what things are for.

The joy is not to have a beautiful dress in your closet, but to wear the dress to make the day or evening colorful and bright and interesting to you and your friends—or even to give it away when you will not wear it.

The joy is not to have a book upon a shelf, neat and perfect in its shining clean dust jacket, but to read the book and rejoice in its information or its inspiration, even to scribble in its margin—or to lend it to friends to read, even friends who never return it.

Things are made for life, not life made for things.

Adapted from Prayer: The Master Key. James Dillet Freeman (1912–2003), Unity's poet laureate, was an internationally acclaimed poet, author, and lecturer.