Years and years ago, I was at a women’s church retreat at an encampment on the Illinois River outside Peoria. I was a very young woman with pretty high expectations for the world – my life in particular.
So I’d gone to the retreat, thinking there would be some secret formula for how to get the world to fit into my customized mold, and I bet you know what happened. It wasn’t about that at all. No, the major changes I needed to occur would have to start with me.
I remember two specifics about the retreat. One, the movie “Annie Hall” with Woody Allen and Diane Keaton had just come out, and I was enamored with Keaton’s portrayal of the title role. I liked her style and identified with Annie Hall’s get along but swim against the current approach to life. Anyway, at some point in the retreat, one of the speakers used an anecdote Allen told near the end of the movie.
The one about the guy who goes to the psychiatrist because he thinks his brother’s crazy because the brother thinks he’s a chicken? The psychiatrist agrees, and suggests the man have his brother committed. “I can’t,” the man says. “We need the eggs.”
Over the years I’ve approached the logic of that joke to lots of situations. I suppose it could be said, I’ve put up with a lot of situations against my better judgment, and convinced myself it was OK. I needed the eggs or whatever it was I thought would get produced.
But the second specific I remember was the closing speaker who read a poem that struck a chord deep within me. It being the dark ages, I went to the podium after she spoke and asked her if I could have a copy. She lent me the original which I hurriedly scribbled on some scrap paper, which got wadded up and mangled in the bottom of my purse and was eventually lost.
The name of the poem was, “I Wish You Enough.” I never forgot the poem’s message, and have wished thousands of times I would run across it again. The other day, though, someone posted a video with a story of a mother and daughter saying their goodbyes at the airport, and the storyteller shares a version of the poem.
Forty years later, I find that the words of the poem are as soothing and encouraging as they were the first time I heard them. This time with all sorts of technology at my very fingertips, I looked up the poem. Bob Perkins is credited as the poem’s author.
“I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright. I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more,” it begins and continues with wishes for “enough happiness to keep your spirit alive… enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger... enough gain to satisfy your wanting... enough loss to appreciate all that you possess” and finally “enough ‘Hellos’ to get you through the final ‘Goodbye.’”
The version of the poem I remembered wished enough wealth to share with one who has little; enough joy to lean against in grief; enough to do so that rest is needed; enough rest so that chores are welcomed. At least I think it did. So delighted was I with the word, “enough” I applied it to as many aspects of my life as possible. And 40 years later, I still do.
Last Sunday as we were leaving church, a friend asked me if I had lunch plans. “Just that I have to go somewhere, and that I want a salad,” I told her. “I haven’t been to the grocery store, and I need vegetables and I don’t want to cook.”
In 15 minutes, we were in her kitchen. I was slicing tomatoes from her garden, she was pulling cold meatloaf, leftover squash fritters, black-eyed peas and asparagus from her fridge. She was going to warm it all up. Except for the peas, I told her, it would be good cold.
We dined, laughed, pondered and talked. We satisfied our souls and our hunger. And suddenly it was 3 o’clock, and time to go. Standing together at her kitchen sink, stacking our dishes in the dishwasher, we spied a hummingbird flitting from blossom to bloom in her flower bed.
“Aren’t we lucky we can stop and be grateful that enough is more than plenty?” I asked her. “This day has been enough.”
Editor’s note: Candace Cooksey Fulton is a freelance writer, formerly of Brownwood, now living in San Angelo. Her weekly columns are published Sundays in the Brownwood Bulletin and Thursdays in the San Angelo Standard-Times and are unique for each paper. She can be reached at email@example.com.