Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thankful for Enough

I sit in my den, at my faux clawfoot desk with leatherette inlays, banging away on an old dell lap-top--which is lighter but does not seem to be holding up as well as the old Royal my dad said got him through the war and the first twenty years of his career--thankful for the day, the family, the work, the blessings which are mine but only by grace.

I do not have much money, but I have a beautiful home--a "benefit" of serving this particular congregation. My wife and I are getting older and gaining weight, and my knee is still gimpy after summer surgery, but we travel along, singing a song, side by side. My kids are not in Harvard or MIT, but they are doing well and finding their way. They have faith, and hope, and oh, so much love. My book is not a classic or a best-seller, but I am as proud of it as I can be. I have finished the rough draft of my rough draft of the book that will come out September next, and I am WAY thankful for that!

Every once in a while I get a piece of good news or a little attention about my writing; yesterday I heard that an article I wrote, originally, as a presentation for a group of my peers, is being published in our official UM journal next March, and an e-interview I did for Dabbling Mum is on line: http://thedabblingmum.blogspot.com/2006/11/interview-with-thomas-steagald.html
I fire off emails to friends and family to share the news and I am always convinced, a few hours later, that I should not have, that they wiill take it for bragging or hubris, especially when I title the email, as I often do, "A bit of Hubris," but it really is thanksgiving. Humble thanks for these little and to me HUGE blessings associated with what I have long worked to do: which is, of course, write.

Tuesday at our community Thanksgiving service--and I love those kinds of events because you get to be for an hour what you are not normally, and in this case, a Pentecostal, as our preacher for the evening capered about and danced and sang his sermon up and down the aisles, mopping his brow and trying to provoke us (in the best sense of that word, "to call forth") into a less constipated praise than is usual for Presbyterians and Methodists, Lutherans and Baptists. He finally stopped when it was clear we had come about as far toward him as we could, and that was not that close... but he preached on the text in II Timothy 3, about how in the last days people would be all the things we are in these last days, but especially this, he said: unthankful. And it is the truth that we are so unthankful. We are so entitled, we feel, instead, imagining that we deserve what we have and deserve even more. We lack graciousness and grace, we lack humility and deference, we do not love or hear the cry of the needy...instead we want, we demand, we expect, and then we want demand expect more.

I have long thought and often said that we need to develop a theology of enough. As when Esau said to Jacob, "I have enough, my brother. Keep this gift for yourself." But in addition to that theology of enough we need also I think to develop a sense of gratitude that is in keeping with the rabbis' counsel, that we pray to God to want what we have instead of praying to have what we want. If God is the giver and not the Wal-Mart, or the military, or even our own ability to provide, then we can enjoy the bounty that is already ours and not hanker after, or covet, the bounty of another. Enough, together with thankfulness, is shield against envy, greed, gluttony, lust, anger, and even despair--and pride, too, I guess. So ALL the seven deadly sins are silenced in us when we are thankful for our enough.

I have enough, my brothers and sisters. Which is not to say that I would not be thankful for more, but I want what I have, am thankful. Today and always.

3 comments:

Richard Mabry said...

So glad that I stumbled upon this posting of yours--surely it was providencial (to use a good Baptist word). Enough...enough...the sound of the word should be like music to a world that lives for excess and conspicuous consumption. I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful. Thank you for your contribution to mine.

R.G. said...

Tom, what a beautiful post. I do think it's so important to always pray that we would be thankful for what we have. I know that many of us "try" to develop that theology of enough and of gratitude. But it seems to slip away so easily. Kinda like being on a diet, I guess. One day you're on fire and you're sure you can do it, confident you can "do without." The next day you are starving and wonder what ever made you think you could survive on two pieces of toast and an apple a day.

By the way, I am one who appreciates every "bit of hubris" you send my way. Otherwise I wouldn't be able to keep up with what's going on with you. Please, keep them coming!

Tangela said...

This was very thought provoking. I am glad I stumbled across your site through the Ivy Bush.