Monday, August 6, 2012

Baskets of Leftovers

I'm continuing a series of short pieces on abundance (this is the fourth, you can find other posts in this series here: Scarcity and Abundance).     

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After all of this, I come downstairs one Sunday morning and am greeted again by the same pile of leftover baby food that sits on the floor in the corner of our dining room day after day – only this time I finally see it for what it is. 
Every day, three times or more, I gather up the large pile of leftovers that accumulates beneath the twins’ high chairs.  Smashed peas that bear the prints of pudgy fingers.  Canned green beans that missed a mouth and tumbled from fist, to lap, to floor in a flurry of consumption.  Crushed cereal pieces, bits of banana and pears.  Eleven-month-olds eat with abandon, not worrying if there will be enough, so much so that the more you give them, the more they waste. 

Three times a day I sweep up this pile.  It’s bigger than even I can believe.  My husband and I marvel at it and joke about renting our neighbor’s dog to walk-through and eat up the scraps each night.  But until today I’ve not been able to see it.  Today is when it hits me.  The scales fall from my eyes and I smile in recognition and wonder how long God has been holding his breath, suppressing a giggle, waiting for me to get this cosmic joke. 

Every day I’m gathering up baskets of leftovers.  Every day.  

Mark 8 tells the story of Jesus feeding the four thousand with seven loaves of bread.  Just after this the disciples get into a boat with Jesus and we're told that, "they had forgotten to bring bread with them, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat."  Later, the worried disciple sum up their view of the situation saying, "We have no bread."  These are the same people who've just seen Jesus feed four thousand people with seven loaves and gathered up seven baskets of leftovers.  They go from swimming in a sea of bread, to drifting anxiously in a sea of fear and doubt and worry.
Isn’t this the way it goes? Every day Jesus is feeding the four thousand, the widow, the orphan and the man who's out of work and his family too and we, his people, are picking up the leftovers.  Yet all the while we grumble among ourselves like the disciples in the boat who look at the one loaf they do have and say, “We have no bread.” 
How would our world change if we really believed and lived the truth of the kingdom of God where abundance is the norm?  I think of the surprised smiles on the porch as we watch the cardboard being unloaded.  The thrill of half-price chicken, of partaking in a meal that’s pure gift.  The shouts of exclamation in the garden, “Any time we get hungry, we can come and eat.”  Would we really have time to fight over resources if we were busy gathering up the harvest that comes and comes and continues to come if only we have eyes to see it? 
I am so prone to hoarding, so firmly do I believe the lie of scarcity.  Oh, God, my faith is but a tiny mustard seed.  But here it is, take it, because with you less is more and, small as it is, it’s enough. 
Ok, so this is more than a day's worth.  What can I say? It was a busy weekend!

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