Life is abundant - even for an icy angel. (CDS)
What a whiner!
Last week I was sniffling about how I was without electricity for nearly four days and then without internet for another two. My reality check came when my friend – who has two children under the age of six – called saying she was going on day eight without electricity or internet. She finally got both back on day ten. Of course, that doesn’t compare to what happened in Texas. And those $17,000 electric bills some folks got.
My jolt also comes after starting a four-week course, “Congregations Learning and Practicing Abundance,” sponsored by the Lake Institute on Faith & Giving (out of the Indiana U School of Philanthropy). Shockingly(!) the very first class focused on abundance. Is this what I signed up for? Apparently so. I admit that I had a hard time thinking about abundance when my electricity was out, there was no internet, and I still had to wear a mask and practice social distancing. However, this class is making me think...and that's a good thing.
What I know about abundance right now is this:
1. Perspective: When you are in the middle of a long or short-term crisis, it’s hard to see or experience abundance. But perhaps, it’s even more important – in the midst of calamity – to focus on the riches that surround you. Neighbors willing to share. A generator that brings light. A roof over your head. It’s like looking at one of those 3-D Magic Eye pictures that were popular years ago. Sometimes, you’ve got to stare that scarcity mindset down and re-imagine it through a lens of abundance.
2. Empathy: Having an abundant mindset helps you become more empathic. My electricity was out for nearly four days. Twelve days later…others are still waiting. I remember how miserable I was. Now, I can empathize with someone who went without it too. Living a life of abundance does not mean that suddenly you become a “Pollyanna.” It means that you can share your neighbor’s burden. You can step into their shoes. You can be less judgmental. You can give more grace.
3. Gratitude: There’s always time, there’s always a reason to say, “thank you.” Having a grateful heart is not only good for the person being bestowed with appreciation, it’s good for your mental health as well. It changes your perspective (see #1). It acknowledges that there is indeed, still good in the world.
For my Lenten practice, I am listening to the Jesuit-inspired “Pray as You Go” daily devotional. At the end of each ten-minute gathering, this prayer – acknowledging abundance – is said:
You have given all to me.
To you Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
That is enough for me.
P.E.G.: Perspective, Empathy, and Gratitude. It’ll keep my whining in check and let an abundant mindset flow from there. That is enough for me.