A few years ago I took a mission trip to Nicaragua. I was struck how people could live so simply and joyfully at the same time. When I returned I felt overwhelmed by all my stuff. I had more pairs of pajamas than most of the people there had in regular clothes. I filled several bags of things to donate. I did not let myself go back through those bags and second-guess myself pull out things I might someday use. Instead I drove them straight to my nearest donation center.
Our culture is always telling us to buy more, to get something better, that we can never have enough, that there should be no limit on what we can and should have. Yet, I can’t help but think of how God put on limits to come walk in our midst as Jesus. He took on the limits of a human body and mind. He took on limits when he fasted. He took on limits when he surrounded himself with the disciples who constantly failed him and didn’t get it. He took on the limits of a human life and gave it up when he was at his prime. He took on the ultimate limit of death.
Our limitless sense of entitlement means that we are destroying our earth and stripping it of resources. Because of our limitless consumerism now, we are limiting the kind of life that poor people can have. For instance, because we like cheap products, we’ve looked the other way while factories belched out dangerous chemical by-products especially in poor neighborhoods and countries. Because of our limitless consumerism, we are limiting the kind of future our children can have. Will my grandchildren be able to taste the foods I love most, or will our climate be so different that those things no longer grow?
What would it mean to take on limits? How many limits of what kind might be appropriate and helpful? Might limiting ourselves now, mean life more abundant later?
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