Enough for everyone
“I can’t find the brownie mix,” my son called from the kitchen. He wanted brownies and decided he would make them himself. I was proud of his initiative.
“There are two boxes in the cabinet above the coffee maker,” responded my wife.
A few seconds later he called back, “They are not there.”
My wife knows that children are incapable of looking behind the front row of groceries in the cabinet or refrigerator, which is why you always have to put the full gallon of milk behind the nearly empty container. If you do not, your refrigerator will soon be filled with nearly empty milk containers. “I put them in there yesterday. They might be behind something.”
“They are not there,” he insisted.
Knowing it was time to employ her “finding powers” every mother has been given, she went to the kitchen expecting to find two boxes of brownie mix right where she put them. To my surprise I heard her say, “They are not here. Does anyone know what happened to the brownies?”
I looked at our daughter who had a sheepish grin on her face. “Do you know where the brownies are?”
“Not really,” she said. “I mean, I can’t remember.”
“Did you hide them somewhere?" I asked.
“Yes, and I can’t remember where,” she responded.
“Why did you hide the brownies?” I inquired.
“I wanted to make sure I got some,” she explained, “I didn’t want anyone to make them while I wasn’t here. There might not be enough.”
“We can always buy more,” I said, then followed up with the question, “Why can’t either of you ever try to hide the broccoli from each other? No one would care if we couldn’t find the broccoli.”
From the way the children try to hide treats from each other, you might think that we never have any sweets in the house. The truth is my wife bakes frequently. She is Norwegian, and there is some kind of gene that gives Scandinavians a nearly uncontrollable urge to make pastries on a regular basis. It is a genetic trait I very much enjoy.
“So where did you hide them?” I asked.
“I really don’t remember,” she insisted.
This is also a trait of children. It only takes seconds for them to forget where they put something. It was entirely possible that she did forget. No one got brownies that night.
There is a counterintuitive principle at work in the universe. When we try desperately to hold onto everything for ourselves, there never seems to be enough. When we share what we have, there always seems to be plenty. This is a lesson that we are trying to teach our children with things like brownies. Maybe if children learn this lesson early in life, they will create society that sees the world as a place filled with abundance rather than scarcity. If that happens, there will be enough for everyone.
I have been a priest for 16 years. I spent the first four years in Minnesota and Wisconsin, six years on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, before becoming the pastor at Advent Episcopal Church in Westlake in 2010. If anyone would find it interesting I have a son and daughter, which I refer to as a matched set, a wife, a dog, and a cat.