May 7, 2018 Common Good

Dreamy Generosity

In the Exodus narrative, the children of Israel left Egypt and entered a wilderness where they were fed daily by bread that appeared each morning like dew.

Now it takes little imagination to see that this narrative of bread in the wilderness is a very different sort of narrative contrasted with that of the exodus. The exodus narrative is credible and realistic, all about exploited cheap labor and escape from an impossible production schedule. Compared with that, this narrative of bread from heaven is a dreamy narrative that lacks that kind of realism. But then, consider that there is something inescapably dreamy and unreal about inexplicable generosity. When we hear of it we wonder about it and doubt it, because it does not fit our expectations for a quid pro quo world. Indeed, about such divine generosity there is something so dreamy that we reserve for it the special term miracle, something outside the ordinary, something that breaks the pattern of the regular and the expected, something that violates the predictable.

When we escape the routines of scarcity, it takes days and days to change our habits, and years and years to change our thinking. In the 40 years of the wilderness, the former slaves were going through a reorientation, rooted in generosity.

Consider all the ways that scarcity has warn you down- in work, in tierless drawn out fights, perhaps in experiences of marginalization. These feelings of scarcity do not go away overnight. This is not only true for you. It is true for all neighbors who will join you in the wilderness. And for you or them, what will be needed to develop that deep transformation is a generosity that will not quit.

Who do you know that you could be generous with today? Not someone you could “help” in exchange for their effort. Not simply someone who has “earned a hand up.” What small miracle of generosity could you build into your daily habit to retrain your own mind about abundance, and to make it possible for this stranger to sustain the long renewing process of wilderness life. What if you are someone’s dreamy generosity?





Brueggemann, Walter. Journey to the Common Good (p. 15). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.

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