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Consumer or Producer?

L mayoWhat’ll it be today…

Will I catch everything tossed at me,
And throw it back real hard?
So they know I’m no pushover;
I can give as good as I take?

Will I consume everything set before me
Chew and swallow, mop up the gravy,
Because I’m a member of the clean plate club,
and we don’t leave full enough alone?

Or…

Will I let things hurled my way
go right on by?
There’s no game of toss,
where there’s no catching.

Will I use my free hands to produce
what only I can see,
and only I can hear
and only I can imagine?

Consume or produce?

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Who would turn away the bread of life?

“Oh no, I couldn’t,” my neighbor says to my offer of a fruit tart.

“You’re SO disciplined,” my other neighbor comments, as she helps herself.

I have invited them to my house to share the tarts. I have made them especially for the occasion. Prepared them lovingly, presented them carefully and attractively, included only healthy ingredients. And yet, one declines, and it is said of her…you are disciplined.

I come to the communion rail and accept the piece of bread from the hand of the pastor. “Wendy, this is Christ’s body, broken for you.”

I dip it in the cup and hear, “Wendy, this is the blood of Christ, shed for you.”

I say amen. And I eat. Not to be graphic or anything, but some of it sticks to my teeth and the roof of my mouth. And I think, oh, I want to consume every morsel. Wouldn’t want to waste a crumb. And then I remember my kitchen table and think…

What if I came to Christ’s table and said, “Oh no, I couldn’t”?

Ironically, my neighbor declined the tart as an expression of guilt. Speaking but not saying, I can’t eat that tart because I feel guilty about the weight I’ve gained. It’s not discipline she is speaking, it’s shame. I wonder how many don’t approach Christ’s table because they are ashamed. Unaware of the grace offered there. How many decline His offering because others might see them and judge them unworthy.

It is certainly true that I haven’t earned the right to eat that bread and drink that wine. But Christ died so I might change my “Oh, I couldn’t” to His “Yes, you can.” And not only that. He stands beside me as I do and says, “You’re so disciplined.” And He means it.

God is a God of paradox. In His Kingdom, consumption is disciplined. Who turns away the bread of life? Eat up and follow Me.

We do have an odd and often unhealthy relationship with consumption in our country because we know our own willpower to be lacking and our discipline to be weak, especially when no one is watching. Funny how in community, when everyone is watching, we can discover a “renewed discipline.”

As Holy week approaches and Easter morning dawns I pray we can gather as especially large and forgiving communities and resist the urge to look right and left at who might be thinking what about our presence. Let’s be disciplined about looking one way. Upward at the cross. Perhaps we will hear the words again, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

And for a moment we will feast without guilt or shame at a table where we are completely welcome. We’ve been invited. Our host expects us to eat what He has prepared.

***I wish all who read this a most Holy Week and a joyous Easter. The KC will continue in the week that follows. He is risen indeed. Amen.***

Do I Have a Category for Enough?

“Today, there is no category for enough.” ~ Tom Albin, Dean of the Upper Room

I have been thinking about that. Yes, in our culture, it seems that more is always better. There’s always room for one more, something more. Don’t settle for less. You can have it all.

What, exactly, is “enough”? How do we know it when we see it, hear it, feel it, consume it? It does seem to be relative, or at least individual. I can’t tell you what your enough is. But for me, what are my categories?…

  • falling short, hungry, underdone
  • too much, stuffed, over did it
  • just right, satisfied, stopping

It’s the last, I guess. The tipping point between food that still tastes delicious and the next bite – the one I eat because it’s there, not because I am hungry for it. Because there is still food on my plate and I don’t want to waste it. Did I know the ‘enough’ category when I served myself all that food?

I wonder if we modify our “enough” category when we over-do. If we desensitize ourselves to what is enough, expanding it a bit more each time, as a self-defense mechanism against the too much. Our physical selves do this. Stomachs expand (physically stretch) to accommodate more and more food negating the stretch-sensors designed to tell us when we are full.

But this sort of compensation is programmed in. Our sensory mechanisms are designed to become accommodated to prolonged sensation. Otherwise we would be bombarded by all the random input coming in from all the way stations. Every strand of hair tugged in the ponytail elastic. Every inch of skin being brushed by our clothing. Every compressed sensor in my butt as I sit in my chair. If I attended to it all, I could not attend to what’s next or even what’s now.

Nope, we are designed to sense “change.” When input changes, we attend to it. When something moves, we see it (even if it was there all along). When something is crawling up our arm, we feel it (even if we didn’t feel it sitting still on us). Even when the sound of happy chatter from children in the next room stops, we notice – because we know sudden silence means trouble.

So how do we sense “enough?” Perhaps that’s why we have no category for it. It almost seems subconscious. Like it’s absence is part of our wiring. To know satisfied when we get to it but only when we get there. If we choose to move beyond it, the moment is gone.

I have a feeling, and this may just be me, but in that moment I need to stop looking around. I have an internal sensor that won’t lie to me. But once I start measuring my enough against everyone else’s enough, I’m not. The should-be’s start in on me. And then the, why stop there when you can…

Today, what if I thought ahead about what would be enough and then stopped when I got there? Then I could be free to start on the next thing. The one I was holding off on until I finished this one. I do seem to be the type who needs to be about doing, but stopping at enough so I can start the next  ‘not done yet’ seems right.

Okay, procrastination, I am so finished.

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of course, there is the problem of sitting in satisfaction. Especially self-satisfaction.

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