2019, a year of plenty

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a parable I heard as a child. . .

“A man traveled to Hell. There, he saw people, miserable and starving, seated at a bountiful table overflowing with food.

But all the forks and spoons were three feet long.

The man then traveled to Heaven. There, he saw people, laughing and feasting, seated at a bountiful table overflowing with food.

And all the forks and spoons were three feet long.

And everyone was feeding their neighbor.

I can’t for the life of me remember the context of the story, but I’ve never forgotten this particular image: The idea that it’s within our power to create feast over famine.

It feels like a timely metaphor for a professional community that is struggling to discover our modern identity, a community that has largely become tiny islands of one.

Many upholsterers feel an underlying sense of lack. Not enough work! Dying industry!

But are we truly seated at an empty table? Or are we each wrestling individually with a three foot fork? Is the problem that there isn’t enough? Or that we can’t reach many of the dishes alone, and we don’t see our neighbors across the table?

If there is potentially more available, how do you convince people to pick up a fork and start helping one another?

It’s easy when everyone feels fat and sassy and full. It’s much harder when people fear they may starve.

We all know that the parable cannot work without reciprocity. One person cannot feed the entire table, and our neighbor may never lift their fork in return.

We know this. Oh how well we know this.

But if we desire a table of plenty, it is the necessary risk we must take. We cannot just sit with our mouth open, hoping: We have to be willing to start.

We stand at the threshold of a new year. 12 unwritten months between us and 2020.

What if we gave it a shot?

A 365 day experiment, a deep collective breath, and a leap of faith into the unknown?

None of us has a pantry that’s overflowing, and it isn’t about giving away your last slice of bread. . . But we can all find a morsel to share.

What if we each look for small ways to nourish our neighbor?

A referral . . . A shout out on social media . . . A bit of information . . . A cup of encouragement . . .

Where could we all be by this time next year?

I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better. – Georg C. Lichtenburg

 “We must give more in order to get more. It is the generous giving of ourselves that produces the generous harvest.” ―Orison Swett Marden

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