Sunday, August 4, 2013

Spiritually Speaking: Want What You Have: Summer, Shoes and School

Summer is rolling by quickly. This is the time of year when many children and youth (as well as some teachers and principals I suspect) lament the last few weeks of summer and the approaching first day of school. This is the time to cram in one more day-trip, to peruse the summer reading list, and begin the anticipatory grief over teacher assignments and elapsed beach days. Routines tend to return, regardless of your age, as fall approaches.

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself with one of those “something other than this” longings. I didn’t have enough options to wear, my shoes were worn, the day was too rainy, and I really wanted more summer. Would our new house have enough room? I wasn’t missing anything of real substance but the series of small things that create the “something other than this” tug. Forrest Church once talked about the first step in a spiritual journey being to “want what you have.” This is of course fine if you have enough.
Traveling through Guatemala these past eight days, I saw plenty of not enough. Not a single pair of shoes, not three meals day (not even one), no house, no closet to put clothes in, nor clothes to place in closets. Hard to imagine proscribing to want what you have in abject poverty. I returned home struck by the similarities between Guatemala and Charlotte, as well as shocked at my recent “something other than this” syndrome.
I opened my closet as I was unpacking and my eyes fell upon the twenty pairs of shoes I own. Twenty pairs! 
Perhaps the path is not simply to want what you have, but to know what is enough. The stories and people I met in Guatemala help keep me accountable to my needs. I need more shoes is simply not a reality for me. I need less shoes is likely a truth! Discerning what is enough is deeply spiritual for each of us. When do we have enough days of summer, enough stuff, enough affirmation, enough friends, where is our enough and it is truly “something other than this?”
My enough is likely somewhere beneath the emotions of stuff and the constancy of change. Enough is somewhere in the present moment and crammed in the day-trip, between the summer pages of the reading list and the divide between the developing world and the one in which we live.
As the last few drops of summer linger, where is your enough?

1 comment:

  1. What timing! Today I had to decide between a day trip and cleaning out my study - both were on my summer to-do list and I knew I was quickly running out of days. The day trip would have been more spiritual as I stood in amazement at nature's beauty. I opted to spend the day cleaning which would benefit many people in my house in many ways and would hopefully put my mind at rest so I could enjoy the day trip later this week. I decided to take care of the practical so could benefit more from the spiritual.