Enough

Not all words are created equal.  Some words don’t do too much in a sentence.  Other words are profound and some are even magical.  For example, if you tell someone you love them, that becomes a momentous declaration that can literally change their lives.  One word---love---can transform someone and have a lasting effect for fifty or more years.  It would be hard to overestimate how much has been written over the centuries about this word.
   
I think of another word.  I have often been intrigued by the word “enough.”  It certainly does not have the impact or fame of the word, love.  But it is an important word.  And it has spiritual connotations, which we will soon note.  The word, enough, has a wide range of references.  It pertains to many areas of our lives.
   
Oddly, when folks who have enough rarely think about the word.  In almost every category I fit into that group of folks.  When you are fortunate or, even, lucky, you don’t even have to think about it.  And too often, you don’t even know you are fortunate or lucky.  That is the shame of it.  Having enough is not shameful.  But not being aware and thankful that you have enough is a shame.  I try to avoid this.
   
Enough can apply to the basics.  We all need enough food to sustain life.  It is true we might get by with a bit less than enough, but we will be malnourished.  Enough food keeps us alive and relatively healthy.  When it comes to food, I am off the charts.  There is almost nothing I cannot have (only the rarest of food would be too expensive) and, in most cases, I can afford much more than I need.
   
Maybe that is a good definition of enough: enough is having what I need.  That is true for food and for the other basics in life.  Enough keeps me alive and relatively healthy.  I might not be satisfied with enough, but that statement doubtlessly comes from the perspective of plenty.  If someone has been starving, simply to have enough food probably seems lavish.  Perspective has a great deal to do with things.
   
Some judgments are more subjective.  Money comes in this category.  When I think of my own experience related to money, it has been varied.  Growing up on a farm, we did not have too much.  I never thought I was poor, but financially things seemed pretty tight.  I certainly did not get all the things I wanted; at times I felt like I was deprived.  The same seemed true during college days and even graduate school.  Looking back, I would say I had enough, but there surely was no surplus.
   
I am not rich (at least by my own subjective standards).  But I know presently I have more than enough.  I have monk friends who are working with a vow of poverty, but they are being taken care of in the monastery.  That is where the money-thing gets tricky.  The net worth of a monk is zero and, yet, monks may be far better off than poverty stricken folks living on the street or the margins of society.
   
Finally, I am intrigued by how the idea of enough functions within spirituality.  It is not something I have given much thought.  As I think about it, I realize there are different levels within spirituality to which “enough” can be applied.  In the first place there is the gift of life itself.  In my theology ultimately God is the source of life.  And insofar as I live, it is enough.  But then we can think about quality of life.  What does “enough” mean when we think about quality of life?
   
Spiritually, I would like to think about “enough” in respect to meaning and purpose.  I recognize people can have meaning and purpose in life without any sense of spirituality.  But I think meaning and purpose are central to spirituality.  Spirituality provides a sense of “enough” if I come to have an idea of who I am (identity), how I belong (community) and how life makes sense (meaning).  I would say I have enough if I have a clue to these three core issues in life. 
   
If I can grow spiritually, I begin to get more than enough.  If I have spiritual maturity, for example, I have a deep sense of who I am as a child of God.  I probably feel like a beloved child.  With this sense of identity, I really don’t need anything else, nor can I even want for much more.
   
Spiritual growth happens most effectively if I also have a community to which I belong.  It does not have to be a church or synagogue, but it does have to be one or more people who care for me, who nurture my spiritual growth and development and who help me to grow up into the person God wants me to become.  If I have this communal well being, I have more than enough.
   
And if I have a clear sense of who God is and who I am and what this Holy One wants for me and from me, then I have a meaning and purpose for life.  Life makes sense and I am grateful to be who I am and doing what I am doing.  With such a sense I know I am enough and that I have enough.  Life is good.

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