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Leaving a Margin

Leaving a Margin

Wednesday, May 21, 2014 – 5 Easter, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 72 (morning) // 119:73-96 (evening)

Leviticus 19:1-18

1 Thessalonians 5:12-28

Matthew 6:19-24

I recently heard some professional advice from several panelists speaking to graduate students. Many participants had heard the rule of thumb that a resume should never be more than one page. Most of the panelists disagreed, however. They found it very frustrating to read a jam-packed resume, bursting to the very narrow margins with everything that the applicant could include. They would rather read a clean, spacious resume that intrigued them enough to turn to the next page.

We could probably all use this refreshing advice to widen our margins. Our first reading today includes wide margins in the way of life that God prescribes for his people, even though the context is rather different than today’s professional marketplace. As the passage says, “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest.” In other words, you should leave a margin.

How different these words are from other messages that pressure us to take all we can get, to use every minute, to clean our plates, to drink to the last drop. Of course it’s wise to cherish each blessed minute and every precious gift that comes our way in this life, and we don’t want anything to go to waste. But how can we also build in some margins, so that we don’t push ourselves to the very edges and limits of our lives?

The reading today goes on to explain the purpose of our margins: “You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien.” When we don’t squeeze or cram or push ourselves to the edge, we find so much more available for those in need, and we find ourselves more open to welcoming something new into our lives.

God asks his people to leave margins around their fields. Today, we can also try to leave margins in our schedules, in our budgets, in our homes, and in our plans. Instead of finding our vineyards bare, perhaps we will find in them a new abundance.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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