In the days after last week’s election, when the narrative from the White House manifested in yet another bad-dream-made-real in our national life, neighbors gathered in towns across Vermont to demonstrate. A friend of mine drove through Brandon on Friday afternoon during one of those protests. Among the swell of Count Every Vote placards, one sign caught her eye. Just one word. Enough.
Shouted in protest—with the tongue planting hard on the roof of the mouth like a gymnast vaulting from the springboard—enough holds the disgust, disbelief, fear, frustration, anger, and heartache of the last four years in its two syllables. E-NOUGH.
A different tenor of the word whispered in the pre-dawn darkness this morning. When I woke and opened my eyes, I was lying on my side facing the window. My first sight was Venus, flashing her high beam in the black eastern sky just above where I knew the skyline of Mount Abraham to be.
As I lay watching, Venus dimmed and narrowed, then disappeared. I shifted down a bit in bed and she slid back into view. The bare branches of a black cherry tree in the meadow scribe that section of sky, and for the next little while, Venus and I played among them. She’d dazzle, then dwindle, then vanish behind a branch as she slowly arced across the sky. I’d wriggle this way or that and out she’d pop. Then we’d do it again.
When she disappeared for good behind the roof overhang, I threw back the quilt and wool blanket and flannel sheet, sat up and touched my feet to the cool floor. Lights off, I reached into the dark closet–now indigo with the coming day–and felt among the fabrics for the softness of fleece. I pulled the jacket over cotton pajamas and stepped out the back door.
My bare feet melted the frost-stiffened grass. Straight overhead, the waning quarter moon hung like a communion wafer neatly shared, her face turned toward the coming sun. Slung between moon and mountain, Venus, too, gleamed the sun’s reflected light.
This slice of moon. This glistening neighbor planet bejeweling the sky. This toe-tingling grass. Contentment embodied. Enough.
The election results offer the possibility of attending to this different kind of enough-ness, after four years held in collective thrall of the grim spectacle of what our world becomes without soul, kindness, restraint, humility, trust, civility, and care.
Lately, I’ve been reading Elegant Simplicity by Satish Kumar. Each page is a gift, and last night I unwrapped this:
“My home is my friend. Because after a while my home needs renewal, I clean it, I repair it, and I paint it. And my garden sometimes needs renewal. So I weed, put compost on the soil, or even let the land lie fallow for a year. When my body needs renewing and healing, I slow down and have a siesta. The world is beautiful, but society’s politics and economics need renewal too. So I work to bring renewal there as well. I participate in the process of transformation.” (page 105)
Enough is as good as a feast, my mother liked to say. But what does enough look like, in this place and time? How much is enough? Enough possessions. Enough food. Enough space. Enough work. Enough said. Enough done.
In that same book by Kumar, each chapter begins and ends with a quote, including this one, an Indian proverb:
When I know enough is enough
I already have enough.
When I don’t know when enough is enough,
I will never have enough.
When I look out on the day now, Venus has disappeared again, this time into the pale blue cloth of sky. Peach-bottomed clouds drape the shoulders of Mount Abraham, backlit by the coming sun. The brook below my window hums a duet with the wind in the treetops. What a feast. Enough.