I am enough. This is the message emblazoned on cards, t’shirts, and letterpress posters. Women write it across their chests in marker and then post to Instagram; others tattoo it on their forearm so that they can remember this simple message all of the time.
It’s a good message. For sure there are many days and dark nights when my “not enough” voice is yowling. Not smart enough. Not pretty enough. Not thing enough. Not talented enough. Not successful enough ….
But I was struck today in reading a very beautiful poem — a response to an interview with the very kick ass Sister Simone Campbell — by someone I’ve never heard of and couldn’t find anything about via Google, Josh Draves-Kellerman, that there is more:
Today, I feel my life changing
I feel a burning in my chest.
What is that flame desires
I know my whole-heart holds.
Wind around me tells small tales
of unrest, my heart-body
hears love, laughter, life of many colors
while I sit and listen to the rain.
He feeds my third eye with ripe
fruits of labor and passion,
lays my path and holds me close
while I patiently align myself with I.
One clear day revealed the pristine
beauty of life outside me,
and my only words became
I am enough.
This is a beautiful poem that speaks to me; thank you for sharing it, Josh. But when I listen to Sister Simone, she is so clearly MORE than enough. She is full of humor and broad thinking. She is both exacting of others and forgiving of them — forgiving of Paul Ryan! I can’t imagine this woman writing “I am enough” on any part of her anatomy. This nun who lobbies against the economic disparities in our country.
“I am enough” gets us up in the morning. It gives us permission to be in the world, not holding back with fear or self-loathing but to matter sufficiently to be right here with everyone. I’m not sure, though, that “I’m enough” challenges us to do more. In fact, I have a sense that “I am enough” can even be a crutch: we use it to get so far, and then we take a sigh of relief and go into maintenance mode.
Is there a next step? Can we heal into I am enough and BEYOND? How do we get to I am so full, so very very enough that I have love and presence to share. Because is what I hear from Sister Simone and other gutsy women who have pushed the envelope not just for themselves but for others.
I think of the families who spoke yesterday at the bail hearing of the shooter in South Carolina. “I forgive you,” several of them spoke to him. As viewed on my computer screen, it was such a surreal scene: Dylan Roof on a TV screen standing in the hallway of a prison, cuffed and staring straight into the camera; the families off screen; the judge the only viewable witness with his back to the camera; and then the voices of family members of the victims — “I forgive you.” What astounding largess of heart.
Sister Simone speaks of how the sin of the first world is of demanding security — whether feeling “safe” in global politics or needing enough clothes, enough food, enough gas for our cars. “It’s all illusion. rather, we’d be better off if we made peace with insecurity.”
So what if we made peace with the ways in which we’ll never be enough, always imperfect BUT ALSO with the ways in which we are so damned enough. Heal ourselves – it’s so vitally important — but be brave enough to imagine that we might not be enough like a cup of broth that just makes it to the top of the cup, but instead that we are ENOUGH like a bubbling cherry pie, spilling over the rim, bursting with flavor.