Living in radical enough-ness
This is a meditation given by Lenora Rand at the Lenten House Gathering, featuring music from The Many and Rob Clearfield, Feb. 27, 2016
It’s almost spring. I mean spring could be coming sometime in the next few months here in Chicago. Definitely by mid July.
So it’s time to think about spring cleaning.
Have you heard about that book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondō?
In it, she says that real secret to cleaning out your excess is looking at all your stuff, item by item, holding each sock and pot and pan and tube of topical ointment and asking
“Does this spark joy?”
It sounded a little ridiculous, when I first read it, but it also made me kind of want to try it.
Because here’s the thing: I have too much stuff. In my house. On my shelves, in my cabinets, in my closets.
And, frankly also, in my life.
I have too much to do. Too much I have to do, need to do, want to do.
Also too much fear. And too much shame.
And at the same time, yeah, this is where it really gets crazy, I walk around feeling like I don’t have enough. Not enough time, enough sleep, enough attention, enough money.
I am also so painfully aware of all the ways that I’m not enough, of all that I’m lacking: the best looks, the most smarts, the greatest talent, the deepest spirituality…a respectable number of Twitter followers. The list could go on. And if I forget that for a minute, all I have to do, is open Facebook.
Evidently I’m not alone in this. The author and social scientist Brene Brown, for one, has written a lot about it, this “culture of scarcity,” we all feel like we’re living in.
In her book, Daring Greatly she says:
“Worrying about scarcity is our culture’s version of post-traumatic stress.”
So we don’t feel like we have enough. Even when we’re surrounded by plenty. Where storage containers have become a bazillion dollar industry.
This all made me think of the story of the feeding of the 5,000. Remember that one, from Mark 6: 30-44? All these people had gathered to hear Jesus and it got to be dinner time and the disciples went to Jesus and said, everyone’s getting a little hungry and crabby but we don’t have enough to feed them. And Jesus said, Really? Are you sure?
The way I was told this story growing up was that Jesus said a prayer and something supernatural happened. What were a few loaves and fishes multiplied like magic.
However, when I was in college I heard a minister interpret what went on that day in a different way, a way that actually seemed even more miraculous to me. He said, perhaps what happened on that hillside was that all the people there started pulling out what they had, the secret food they’d hidden in backpacks and stashed in purses, to take care of themselves, to make sure they didn’t go hungry, to make sure they had enough…and they started sharing… and when they did, it was enough for all. In fact they had extra…12 baskets of more than enough.
Whatever you believe happened that day, it seems like the culture of scarcity was definitely turned on its head. Because Jesus proclaimed in word and through this experience, that when you trust, when you risk, when you’re willing to be vulnerable, there is enough to go around.
That’s the upside down world Jesus came to usher in. That’s the vision of God Jesus came to show us. The God who makes sure there is enough.
Enough love. Enough mercy. Even enough food and enough security, and enough room for differences. And maybe the real miracle is being able to see that.
To live in radical enough-ness.
Because if we really believed we had enough, we might not need so much. We might realize how much we can let go of. We might understand what Jesus meant when he said we can lose our lives to find them.
Lent, they say, is a call to do some spring-cleaning of your soul. A time to say, with the Psalmist,
Create in me a clean heart, O God.
In the measure of your abundant mercy, clear the crap from my life.
OK, I’m paraphrasing on that last part, a bit.
Maybe the place to begin that soul cleaning is by taking a look at what we might be holding onto a little too tightly. Whether that’s our fear or our jobs or our money or our desire to matter or our time or our chocolate or our hurts, and then, asking Marie Kondo’s question:
Does this bring me joy?
And maybe we ask a couple questions I imagine Jesus would add as well…like:
Does this bring more love and hope and mercy to me, and to the world?
Does it help this feel like a place where there’s enough to go around?
In a minute we’re going to join together in the Lord’s Supper.
I don’t think it’s by accident that Jesus suggested this simple human act, of sharing bread and cup with each other, is the best way to remember him, to recognize him, to see what God is really like.
Because perhaps, if we’re lucky, if we’re blessed, if we really open our eyes, we can, just like those 5000 people on the hill that day, know in the breaking of the bread, that there is hope for our hunger, for all our hungers, and in the sharing of the cup, see that there is a love that can fill our empty places, our feelings of not having enough, and not being enough.
Perhaps we will be able to join Jesus’ mother Mary in the prayer of praise she offered in Luke, for a God who remembers mercy and fills the hungry with good things, who makes sure there is enough.
For all of us. For the whole wide hungry world.
And, yes, even more than enough.