When Less is More

Those who know me well know I absolutely love to garden. Growing up under the tutelage of both my mother and maternal grandmother, I learned to plant seeds, pull weeds, and cultivate at a young age. So now, living on my own, it only makes sense to continue the gardening tradition in my family. Here’s the problem; each and every year, I overplant.

Maybe you know the feeling. Each spring, you get amazing ideas of everything you want to harvest come summer and fall. So, the tomato plants go in, along with the cucumbers, and the peppers, and the onions, and the squash, and the beans, and the kale, and the spinach, and, and, and.

Now, it’s one thing to tend that many plants as they grow, but it’s a whole ‘nother thing to harvest the produce of that many plants and know what to do with it all! Recently, as I was picking pail after pail of green beans, I found myself making a mental list of all the people I could share the fruits of my labor with. By the time I got to the end of the row, standing up from my crouched position, all I could think was, “Gee, Aleese. All this abundance is great, but half of this would’ve been enough!”

Half of this would have been “enough.” You’d think I’d remember that, after years of planting way too much, but every year, I make the same mistake. Every year, instead of planting to have an “abundance,” I wish I had settled for “enough.”

So often in society, we have been trained to believe that we should be striving for an abundance: an abundance of money, an abundance of opportunities, an abundance of experiences, an abundance of shoes, an abundance of __________. Indeed, marketing will tell you that one of something is never “enough.” What if, instead of striving for an abundance, we were content with what was “just enough”?

In my congregation, each week, we pray the Lord’s Prayer – words that Jesus taught his disciples to pray. One of the petitions in that prayer asks of God, “give us this day our daily bread.” Yes, our daily bread. Not bread for the week. Or the year. Or enough to have leftover and stick in the freezer. Not an abundance, just “enough.”

So, what would it be like for us to actually be content with “enough”? What would it be like to retrain our brains to recognize that the opposite of scarcity isn’t abundance, but is actually “enough-ness”? For some of us, from time to time, we might still experience abundance, but in recognizing that obtaining an abundance doesn’t have to be our goal in life, we just might be content with less. We just might be more inclined to offer what we have to others – simply keeping what we need as our “daily bread” and offering the rest to those who truly do live in scarcity.

So while I go and pawn off garden produce on any willing hands that will take it, perhaps we’d all do well to remember that “enough” is really “enough.” For sometimes, less truly is more, when living together in community.