a little something extra

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sabbath 28

This week's chapter is called "The Way of Enough." Muller begins it with a recap of the story of the manna and the Exodus. He uses this old story to make the point that, as he puts it, "whatever was given would be enough."

And yes, already in the very first paragraph of the chapter, I'm ready to challenge Muller. Immediately my brain says back, "Oh yeah? Tell that to the family in my neighborhood that can't keep their kids fed."

Muller knows who his intended readers are, and they don't include the family who can't keep their kids fed. He's writing for bohos like me, who actually have enough money to provide the necessities of life for themselves, but who have a problem with overwork and overwhelm. For us, his privileged audience, he draws a finer distinction betweeen "abundance" (that is to say, "too much, more than you need") and "enough." Muller argues that we should focus on the fact that we have enough, and allow that fact to relax us, not focusing on making it to the abundance of having more than we need.

This is where my second challenge arises. Enough now is not necessarily enough later. I spend significant time concerning myself with later. Muller might argue that time spent worrying about later is not Sabbath time.

He's not saying "Never concern yourself with the future." He is saying, "Use the Sabbath time to admit a new point of view to your thinking. Use it to experience having enough, and being thankful for the enough you have." When Sabbath time is over, then there's time to return to planning and working and storing away... and perhaps one will do that so much better because of the restoring effects of the Sabbath.

Muller's recommended exercise this week instructs us to set an empty place at our tables, and hold in mind all the people living and dead, near and far who "join you there in spirit." This will be an interesting thing to try at some supper this week. I have no one to explain it to, so it will just have the chance to work on me.

Links to Tripp's and Cristopher's posts when they go up.


At 8:08 AM , Blogger Tripp Hudgins said...

This is a lovely post, Megan. Thanks. I had some of the same initial comments that you list...When you are truly poor, and don't have enough...But that's the trick. The real poor among us don't have enough. When we have more than enough, is that an indictment of some kind? I don't know. Maybe not.

And his spiritualizing of the dynamic was interesting to me as well. "I keep seeking God! And I am so tired. How will I ever keep it up?" Yeah...the transcendent (Thoreau quotation is curious) and the immanent God are both at work at all times. Seek and ye shall find, dontcha know!

At 9:11 AM , Blogger meeegan said...

Actually, no, I don't know, not at all!


At 8:06 PM , Blogger Cristopher said...

I think you neatly summarized his point in your penultimate paragraph. My thoughts went to my various retirement investments while reading this, also--the same sort of thing you mentioned about enough now not being the same as enough later. K occasionally accuses me of sprinkling her with my grandfather's leftover depression dust...

At 9:40 AM , Blogger meeegan said...

I'm in sympathy with that dust, myself! I wonder whether K would feel differently about it if she were a single earner.

At 4:43 AM , Blogger Tripp Hudgins said...

Perceived security is always the issue, no? If I read you all rightly in these comments, what is enough and our basic economic security are closely connected. The Great Depression still has its influence. I fear for my retirement...but have somehow adopted a bit of that Gen X skepticism that says I will work until the day I die...or will spend time living in abject poverty or as a recipient of another's charity...or both because the government will tell me I am not allowed to work after 70 or something equally as random.

Anyway...there you have it.

At 9:44 AM , Blogger meeegan said...

Well, that takes us back to the series of posts we each made earlier this year about what we truly believe in. "You're never fully safe" was one of mine. Safety and security are very closely intertwined, though I don't think they're fully synonymous.

As far as perception goes (wait a minute, let me dust off my BA in Philosophy) -- how do you think perception and fact interact?

At 6:32 AM , Blogger Tripp Hudgins said...

Your are already ahead of me here...But I'll give it a shot.

Perception is the guiding reality of interpretation. Facts play in to be sure, but facts are never encountered without some overarching interpretive framework: perception.

I perceive that my retirement will be brief because of how I interpret the facts of the Social Security Administration...It is an interpretation...a perception. I do not perceive safety in retirement. Some do. I dunno. What do you think?

At 9:34 AM , Blogger meeegan said...

It sounds like you are essentially saying that perception matters more than facts. Is that correct?

At 12:06 PM , Blogger Tripp Hudgins said...

I would say that we typically live in the perception of facts. It is both and. Facts seldom if ever stand alone. They are always interpreted through lenses of perception.

At 9:21 AM , Blogger meeegan said...

On the one hand, that's true. On the other hand, I can't really understand what you're getting at about perception.

At 9:51 AM , Blogger Benjamin said...

Ooo, can I play?

I don't know if I have a point to make here, I just want to lob a barstool into the general pandemonium in the bar...

Take the raw "facts" of some sort of event, say, car wreck. Vehicle A is traveling at velocity X, vehicle B is traveling at velocity Y, A switches lanes abruptly, clips B's front quarter-panel, causing both vehicles to spin out.

However, each driver has a perception of the event which is an amalgamation of these facts filtered through how they perceive their own generic sense of culpability and vehicular infallibility, i.e. "I am such a good driver that I would NEVER cause an accident". Both parties consider the other to be at fault, but this is entirely perception, and not (necessarily) based on facts.

So here's maybe a nugget of beginning (at least for me) - facts are based on physical reality; measurable (if not always measured), quantifiable (if not always qualtified), discrete. Perception filters facts through our vastly complicated (and virtually entirely immeasurable) selves.


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