Thursday, January 12, 2012

Just Right

In the well-known story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Goldilocks tries out the chairs, foods and beds of the bears who live in the cottage she finds in the woods. Suspending for a minute the various causes for parental concern that the story raises (unattended child wandering in the woods, home invasion, anthropomorphism, eating other people's food uninvited, crawling into a stranger's bed, etc.), the story repeats one theme three times: the theme of JUST RIGHT. Not too big or small, not too hot or cold, not too hard or soft - it was just right.

How much time do we spend trying to get things just right? Most of us are working hard at making things better than just right; it's part of our culture. This drive for better probably fuels many of the problems we have recently experienced: people bought houses they couldn't afford, companies promised pensions they didn't fund, CEOs collected paychecks that exceeded any rational standard of fair compensation, and people who could least afford it paid too much for their not quite enough.

My congregation is spending a lot of time learning about Care of Creation these days. We are being encouraged to start choosing the just right amounts instead of the excesses we have indulged in over the past decades. It's interesting to recognize how easily we know what the right amount is for someone else, and how hard it is for us to see our own patterns of consumption.  It's easy to point out that our teenager is staying in the shower too long, or washing a less than full load of clothes. We're not so judgmental about our own indulgent consumption, whether that is drinking bottled water, driving a gas guzzler or heating/air conditioning more space than we really need.

I'm going to try and think about how much is JUST RIGHT, and aim at that. Like Goldilocks I will probably have to try out several different versions of things before I find the just right pattern, but it's worth the effort. Most of us know the ecosystems of our own bodies. We know how much food or exercise or sleep is just right; how much caffeine or salt or company we can tolerate. Can we apply that knowledge to our living, breathing planet?

As I write this I am looking at a calendar that has too many commitments on it. Today is not going to be a great day but if I aim for just right I just might hit it, especially if I invite God who is the author of JUST RIGHT to help me find that target. And may it be just right with you today as well.

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