Do you ever worry that you won’t have enough of what you need? Well, I feel you. So do Jesus’s disciples.
As I allow the Gospel reading to resonate with me, what I notice is the tension between scarcity and abundance. I also notice Jesus’s insistence on working together communally to feed the people.
After a whole day of Jesus doing what he does – teaching, healing, preaching – the twelve can only focus on what they don’t have. There’s not enough for people to eat. When they tell Jesus to dismiss the crowd so that each person can go and take care of their own needs, they place the onus on the individual.
But Jesus doesn’t work that way. He puts the responsibility back on them, back on the community, so that the needs of the whole community can be met together. And together, as community, all are fed.
Where some find scarcity, Jesus, in the context of community, offers abundance. Everyone has enough and more than enough to eat. Not only that, but the community experiences this unitive, meaningful miracle together. People not only have their physical needs met, but they have their need for belonging met as well.
There’s something within me that longs for this kind of community, one of abundance and working together to cultivate a sense of belonging. However, there’s something in me that undermines this longing. I, like the disciples, sometimes worry about not having enough, and I try to work things out on my own without entrusting them to community. This tension is often at work in me, this back-and-forth push-pull of relying on community and relying on myself. God is somewhere in that mix, and I am one step forward, two steps back in my trusting God’s abundance. But I am growing.
That desire for community – communion – is probably what drove me to start God Space in the first place, and it’s that common desire in our members that sustains us as we grow as a community. I sometimes worry that we won’t have enough – enough people, food, meaning – and I try to bring those things on my own. But we’re a community, and we do this together. And we always have an abundance of what we need.
We recently had a gathering, a simple prayer and potluck. As usual, I worried that only a few would come, but we had a whole house full of people. I worried that there wouldn’t be enough food, but there was so much I needed to pull out another table to put it all on. I worried that people wouldn’t have a good time, but our singing and laughter could be heard outside, and our heart-felt conversations showed that God was very much with us.
There’s no need to worry about scarcity; there’s no need for each of us to do it all on our own. God is taking care of us, and we have enough and more than enough, especially together.
What about you?
Are you someone who worries about scarcity or someone who delights in abundance – or some of both?
When you worry about not having enough, what is it that you feel you lack? What are you hungry for at this time?
What communities do you belong to? What does belonging feel like for you?
By Sister Leslie
Sister Leslie Keener, CDP is the director of God Space, a community-building spirituality ministry in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. She’s a Sister of Divine Providence with a Masters in Ministry and a Certificate in Spiritual Direction and Retreats from Creighton University. She directs retreats, meets with people for spiritual direction, and serves as the vocation director for her community. She also serves on the Coordinating Council of Spiritual Directors International. She enjoys music, meaningful conversations, and dancing.