Friday, October 26, 2012

Enough? vs. Enough!

I consider it a privilege to serve in the center of the city of Washington. I love urban ministry. I take delight in living in the midst of the city where one can walk many places or rely upon public transportation, interact with a wide range of people on a regular basis, and have a mind that is constantly inspired to think.

But there are times when I loathe living in the city.

I get tired of people always asking me for something.

There are many days when I am tempted to put my head down and walk or drive in autopilot instead of allowing my eyes to make contact with the eyes of a person in need.

But something recently happened that is causing me to think again. It is a story I shared in my sermon on Sunday morning and one I am still reflecting upon.

I was riding in the car with my colleague, Alisa. We had experienced a magnificent morning of prayer practices, connecting our bodies with our spirituality through the gift of a Paulist priest and a grant given to six clergywomen in our annual conference. Our morning of stretching, twisting and praying was followed by a delightful lunch on the sidewalk of a neighborhood pizza place where we were all encouraged to order our own individual pizza only to discover that our table of six women needed three pies instead of six. When our bellies were filled and our souls satisfied, we had our leftovers wrapped in foil that concealed the pizza we planned to bring home to our partners. The shiny packages were placed in our bags as we hopped in the car and made our way home.

The car had stopped at a busy intersection where I am trained to keep my focus straight ahead instead of looking at the people on the sidewalk who regularly approach cars waiting for a green light. I did what I always do - look ahead - while Alisa looked outside the window - my window.

Are you hungry? I heard her ask as I turned my gaze to match hers. I don't know what exactly transpired next but I remember reaching into my bag while saying out loud, "We have food!" A moment later I was rolling down the window and handing over our two packages of pizza. We then watched....and learned a lesson.

The man took the two packages and immediately handed one to a friend waiting on a bench. They both sat down and started to eat with a pace that confirmed that the answer to Alisa's initial question was, in fact, "Yes." They were hungry. The two pieces of pizza in each package were consumed before our light turned green.

The man who gave one package of pizza to a friend never examined the packages before handing one over. He did not peek inside to see if one package had something he liked better than the contents of the other package. He did not hold the packages up to see if one weighed more than the other or if one had three pieces while the other had two pieces. He received two packages and immediately gave one to someone with a similar need to be satisfied.

How often do we do the same?

Do we ever give without first evaluating whether we have enough? How often are we given the equivalent of two packages of pizza and quickly consume them both when we could have been satisfied with one, allowing someone else to be satisfied at the same time? How often do we give joyfully because there is a need without asking how our giving might negatively impact us - whether it is our time, our talent or our resources?

The man was hungry but he revealed one of my hungers as he took our leftover pizza.

I long to live a life where the word, "enough" has an exclamation point behind it - a life where I can always see the abundance God has given to me - instead of being in a place where I am regularly asking, Is there enough? or Will there be enough for ME if I share what has been given to me?

God goes to great lengths to help the Israelites see the power of taking just enough when God rains bread from heaven, providing manna in the wilderness. The Israelites then learn what happens when they take more than enough - the leftovers spoil.

In what ways are we being invited to share?

The words are rather beautiful. Read them once more. "I have enough!"

1 comment:

Timothy Drew said...

Currently I have been reading Matthew 5-7, the sermon on the mount. One of the aspects that I have been thinking about lately has been about worry and being anxious about the future and my needs. This article has only confirmed what I have discovered as I sought the wisdom of these teachings. I observed that Jesus spoke of a trust and reliance upon the Father. One in which we cast aside our anxiety and instead appreciated that God cares for us. He values me even more than the birds of the air. An interesting comparison. I have no need to worry about enough because enough is taken care of for me. Thank you Aunt Donna.