Faith Formation Focus: Abundance

Not what we have but what we enjoy, constitutes abundance.  Epicurus

Since Epicurus was an ancient Greek philosopher who live 341 BC, we can see that the above wisdom has been around for a very long time and that the beauty of its truth doesn’t diminish. These words open the floodgates of true wealth for everyone who takes it to heart.  Epicurus also said, “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember what you  have now was once among the things you only hoped for.” I love quotes on abundance because they remind me to be grateful for so many things- large and small- and in so doing to be happy and not wait to live!  When we look around us there are so many reminders of plenty. The natural world  is certainly no stranger to the concept of abundance. Think of all the leaves on one single tree, flowers that cover an entire hillside, deserts and forests that seem to stretch on forever. The ocean is so amazingly vast and the distance of the galaxies in space really unfathomable. When we appreciate the variety of plants, insects, and animals (including people) on this earth with so many different ways of being in the world… The abundance is astounding!

Ralph Waldo Emerson commented, “If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years how man would marvel and stare!”  And yet because stars light up the sky every night we may go weeks, even months, without looking up.    

I have found that a scarcity mentality can slip into our lives almost without our awareness.  Our first thought of the morning may be that we didn’t get enough sleep, there are never enough hours in the day for all that we want to accomplish.  If we are older it is hard not to notice the things we used to be able to do but can’t anymore.  And if we are younger the grass may look more abundant in an upcoming phase of life rather than the one we are living now. We wish we were more patient or loving or talented or financially secure.  Since America is a consumer society and marketing thrives on creating a sense of lack, media is designed to make us  feel that we will never have  enough money for all we want to buy, experience, be, and even to give.

None of us are immune from a scarcity outlook- or incapable of choosing instead to focus on all the abundance in our lives. The gift of a day is huge if you stop to think about it  and so is the gift of being in all kinds of relationships with regular human beings  who are also divine. Being part of something bigger than ourselves, like members and friends of UUCB for instance, can bring abundance to our lives and so can appreciating our ability to see, hear, eat, grow, create, learn and love.  Even modern conveniences can be a reminder of abundance when we realize that the kings and queens of old did not have such comforts and amenities because they were nowhere to be had.    

I love the song written by Peter Mayer,  Everything is Holy Now. (You can listen to it on youtube.)  First he is feeling bad that miracles seem to happen only in the bible then he realizes the truth.  “Wine from water isn’t small but an even better magic trick is that anything is here at all.  So the challenging thing becomes -not to look for miracles, but finding where there isn’t one!”

To be on the lookout for what isn’t a miracle is to have an abundance mentality. Is your outlook generally one of scarcity or abundance?  I wondered this for myself so for an entire day I tried to focus and speak only of abundance to see how many times I had to check my own thoughts (a lot).  That means when I woke up in the morning and thought how I didn’t get enough sleep, (I am a night owl so tend to stay up too late) I changed it to, “Wow, my bed is comfortable!  I sure look forward to getting back in it tonight!” and so on throughout the day. If you live with other people they will think you’ve gone a little bonkers but they will enjoy your company and  you will learn something from the experiment.  For one whole day never let a comment of scarcity cross your lips but  glory in the abundance all around you/  With practice we can all learn to  claim our true wealth as living beings on this incredible earth.  

Janen Wright, Director of Faith Formation