How much is enough?

Fall is a time for abundance. The harvest moon hangs low in the clear sky, temperatures plummet, nuts drop from the trees, sweet potatoes and pumpkins emerge steaming from the oven to warm us and fill our bellies. There is much to be grateful for, much good work to do.

20111107-102051.jpg

Pineapple guava in my back yard, which produces fruit throughout November and December

And yet, I find that sometimes my mind cannot comprehend the bounty before me. My smile vanishes beneath my furrowed brow, and I tromp through the leaves grumbling about lack…not enough workers, not enough food from the garden, not enough time… The gifts of creation seem meager and miniscule, and I cannot enjoy my supper because it is made up of not enough home-grown ingredients and too many store-bought.

20111107-102133.jpg

Simple, edible Canna lilies

When is there going to be enough? I wonder. Suddenly enough is defined as more, no matter how much I have to begin with. More money. More free time. More vegetables. More projects that are not yet finished, or not yet started. New and different friends, because the relationships I have are not…enough. Nothing seems to be enough, and so the endless striving for more ensues, and my search for the simple life has landed me back where I started, stuck in the rat race.

20111107-102207.jpg

Our chickens forage in the safety of their chicken tractor

Is there something wrong with my chosen lifestyle? No, the error is in my thinking, which blurs my vision. Creation is abundant. Period. When I am in tune with the harmonic productivity of the planet, I can see that there is always enough to share. Like in the familiar stories from scripture, where the widow gives her last mite as an offering, or the woman offers her last bread to the wayfaring disciple, I cannot know what heaven has in store for me to receive unless I’m willing to offer up the things of this world.

20111107-104259.jpg

Garden bed in my yard. Here you can see rosemary, chives, thyme, lettuce, cabbage, onions, lemongrass, a blackberry bush, an apple tree...abundance!

In the stories, the widow is exalted, and the the hungry woman and her son are blessed with the miracle of a flour bin that never empties, a jar of oil that is always full. They do not receive these rewards by hoarding and being stingy. They receive because they are willing to give, because they allow God’s abundance to be made evident in their lives.

20111107-102258.jpg

Pecans are underfoot everywhere this time of year!

Abundance is all around us, all the time. Let us set our sights on the giving and receiving of good gifts, and remember to be grateful in all things. When we share and give thanks, there will always be more than enough.

What can you give today? What have you received?

Advertisements

Blueberry Miracle

I am constantly amazed by the resilience of nature.

Koinonia is in the process of putting a new addition on our dining hall. Back in December, the project kicked off with the installation of the new 4,000-gallon septic system, which was to be placed just along the edge of our front yard. I knew the hole for the enormous tank would be big, but nothing could prepare me for the massive mound of red earth that appeared that afternoon.

The contractors tried to avoid spilling dirt over into our garden, but unfortunately they did not recognize that the bare twigs emerging from the ground next to our dogwood tree were very young blueberry bushes. We were not at the house to request that they tweak the placement of the pile, and so on that drizzly winter day three blueberry plants were buried under about eight feet of heavy clay soil.

While waiting for the inspector to come and approve the septic system, the dirt remained untouched for more than two months. I lamented the loss of the blueberries that we would have enjoyed this summer, and tried to laugh it off. But it still irked me.

In April, there was an issue with one of the pipes coming off of the septic, and so part of the system had to be uncovered. As the maintenance crew dug, they tossed aside severed tree roots and chunks of urbanite. I was cooking lunch that morning, and when I came out to pick some herbs from my yard, there was one of my kids’ sandbox pails half filled with red clay, with three stems of a muddy, broken blueberry plant wedged in the sticky soil. The guys were proud of their find, but I shrugged it off and wondered why they had bothered to repot the dead plant. Nevertheless, I placed it next to our potted trees and it received regular waterings for a few weeks until…

New growth! I could scarcely believe my eyes. Against all odds, this seemingly fragile plant had been buried alive for months, and emerged from certain death with its roots still longing for life.

We will place the bush in our yard this fall, and if all goes well it will produce its first fruits next summer. But the hope in this story is so much bigger than a few sweet blueberries for my family to enjoy.

Sometimes it is a struggle simply being in the world. Sometimes obstacles weigh me down, disappointments crowd my view, demands pile up and threaten to crush me, and it is tempting to give up on my dreams entirely. But then I think of the blueberry bush that held on long enough to survive in the mud. Trauma caused the plant to go into shock, and it put all of its energy into the main roots.

Insignificant though it may seem, that plant’s survival has inspired me constantly throughout the last two months. When life’s pressures seem too much to handle, it’s crucial to get back to basics, to put all of my energy into the roots of each aspect of my life.

When relationships go awry, I don’t give up as quickly as I used to. The roots that survive traumatic conditions are the strongest; sometimes waiting for conditions to improve produces the hardiest plants which bear the sweetest fruit. When setbacks cloud my vision, I’m learning to focus on what inspired me in the first place. Then the taproots survive to support the main branches, and when the seasons change new growth occurs.

When I wait patiently and watch diligently, I am sure to witness the blessings that follow those first small leaves of hope.