Rich in leftovers

A Christian Science perspective on daily life

As surely as turkey and dressing have appeared on tables around the United States, there are also lots of leftovers in the lives of Thanksgiving celebrants. But I'm thinking today about another kind of leftovers.

This Thanksgiving season, I've enjoyed a study of the story of Ruth in the Bible. You may recall she's the one who leaves her native land with her mother-in-law, after her own husband dies, to go back to the land of his ancestry. She meets a distant relative there who takes her under his wing.

When I recently read this story again, I was struck by what the relative says to Ruth: "Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence, but abide here fast by my maidens."

What Ruth is being invited to do is to follow behind those reaping the grain with the other maidens, gathering what the reapers have dropped or missed. In this way, she's able to fill her apron with corn to sustain both her and her mother-in-law. (The happy ending is that the distant relative eventually marries her, and she becomes great-grandmother to Israel's King David.)

What I'm appreciating about this story is Ruth's humility and willingness to pick up the leftovers. How many of us scorn leftovers – if it wasn't prepared especially for us, we'd rather leave it behind. We don't want the job if we were second choice; we don't want the present if it was re-gifted from someone else; we don't want the clothes if they are hand-me-downs. But there are riches in these leftovers.

I look around my home and can see that much of what I have has been gifts of this nature. I have a hand-me-down television my parents carted cross-country to give me. I have not one, not two, but four couches that friends gave me as they upgraded theirs or were moving, one of which graces the most formal room of my house. I have an elegant coffee table, countless books, rugs, chairs, kitchen items, clothes, all of which came from well-meaning people who no longer needed these things but thought perhaps I might. All of it together adds up to a home that may look like a bit of a patchwork, but I feel surrounded by love.

Because that's what love is – sharing what we have. And letting people give you things is a form of gratitude in and of itself. They may not have a million dollars to bestow on you, but they do have the thing in their hand at that moment. Accepting it and the love it represents imbues it with grace. Rejoicing that this gift of love has come your way can fill your days with joy.

"The rich in spirit help the poor in one grand brotherhood, all having the same Principle, or Father;" wrote Mary Baker Eddy, "and blessed is that man who seeth his brother's need and supplieth it, seeking his own in another's good" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 518).

Now, I usually position myself as the "rich in spirit" in that passage – the one doing the giving. But there's a special grace in being "the poor" as well, the one receiving the blessing. After all, giving requires both a giver and a recipient. The act of giving can't occur without both.

So I love looking around my home and remembering the moments of giving and those who enacted them. While I might not be wealthy in the conventional sense, I am rich with leftovers.

Gather up
the fragments that remain,
that nothing be lost.
John 6:12

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