The work of the land. The work of community. The work of enough. Each are more than formational lessons for us in our journey. They are the interlaced circles of the Kingdom, Church, and Life. They are the root, the vine, and the fruit. They are the lens through which we are seeking to see everything. They are what it means to practice the Way of Jesus. And in our practice, to be patterned into the resurrected life of Jesus.
Everyone has been given a land…a place to caretake. Be it in the suburbs or the woods, be it acres or city blocks. Everyone has a land. The land defines who your neighbors are, the land requires your attention and your awareness to its well-being. For your own well-being is dependent on the well-being of the land on which you dwell.
Everyone needs the work of community…a people who are following Jesus together. A people who define the reality of our lives. A people who self-limit for the other. A people who encourage one another on to good works. A people who serve and love together.
And everyone needs the work of enough. Let me say clearly and up front that the work of enough can’t be simplified into merely owning less; it is about what owns us.
The work of enough has been the hardest work we have tackled. I can’t say we have mastered it…but we are apprenticing enough’ers.
What is the work of enough? It’s a little hard to define. For “enough” is a mysterious thing. It’s not something you can hold, create, or something you can see…but it is something you must search for, and it is something you can find.
The work of enough is to recognize the gift of your one life. As a Chaplain, I have sat in front of many people and listened to their dying regrets. Not one time have I ever heard someone say they tried to ruin their life. Not one time have I ever heard someone tell me they wanted to be unhappy. But I have heard the same stories and themes over and over. I would summarize those stories like this: If I could live again…I would pay more attention to what I was given rather than what I wanted.
The work of enough is to recognize everything in life is derived. Everything is gift. The Bible starts with this lens…everything that exists derives from a Creator. The Genesis story is not trying to argue a scientific fact of beginnings, but providing a lens to begin life with…to see life and everything in it as a gift. Unfortunately, as told in the Genesis story, humanity struggles to embrace the humble work of enough. We too often eat the bitter fruit of wanting to trade places with God. We try to return the good gift of earth in exchange for something more.
To avoid the worn path leading out of the garden, we must refocus ourselves on the work of enough.
The work of enough reveals that we are dependent. We are not self-made. We are dependent upon God and one another. No one exists independently. We are all connected. The work of enough is to embrace our dependence. To live in a spirit of trust in God and the other. To live with an awareness that my choices in life can dictate the conditions of another life. The work of enough frees us from the independent pursuit of status, positions, and possessions. The work of enough keeps us from the traps of labels, judgement, and fear.
The work of enough requires us to confront our active idolatry. Richard Foster says, “Idolatry is, of course, the attempt to erect an allegiance higher than God.” There is no shortage of idolatry at work in our lives. Idolatrous monuments litter our cultural landscape – and if we struggle to name them…it’s likely because we are captive to them. The work of enough is the discipline of identifying and confronting our active idolatry.
What does the work of enough produce? The work of enough forms a contented life. The work of enough makes room for joy. Again it is Richard Foster who says “Joy, not grit, is the hallmark of holy obedience.” Engaging in the work of enough disciplines the spirit of dissatisfaction. The work of enough puts to work the lazy imaginations of anxiousness. The work of enough creates grounded and grateful people. The work of enough forms a person who knows they are not what they own and are fully aware of what owns them.
It seems Wendell Berry is right, again, when he writes, “And we pray, not for new earth or heaven, but to be quiet in heart, and in eye, clear. What we need is here.”
What we need is here. And that is the work of enough.