A few weeks back a fellow UU wrote on Facebook that she was down to hear last roll of toilet paper, and she was at loose ends. Within 10 minutes one of her friends said “I’m going your house later today, I’ll drop some off.” I’ve seen this time and time again since the pandemic began, when there is a need, some kind and creative person rushes to fill it. A small high end furniture company my brother worked for turned their production completely to 3d printing of PPE, and donated all of it to the local hospital. My neighbor is not just making cloth masks from fabric scraps, but is working with a local nonprofit “Reuse” to create a system of volunteers making masks from all the donated fabric and sheets and tshirts, to clean and sanitize them and distribute them to healthcare workers in our county.
I don’t say this to minimize the very real tragedies and shortages and systemic failures we are seeing on the news, but the spirit gets discouraged when we begin to believe that that is the whole story. When systems break down, when times get tough, we are called to tap into the abundance that is part of the nature of being alive on this earth. this morning, we take up together the spiritual practice of noticing abundance wherever we find it.
Like the animals in Mushrooms in the Rain we forget that there are sources of abundance outside our own resources. We forget that mushrooms grow in the rain. In fact, nature is the perfect model for abundance. Says green designer William McDonough:
“Nature is nothing if not extravagant. Four billion years of natural design, forged in the cradle of evolution, has yielded such a profusion of forms we can barely grasp the vigor and diversity of life on earth. Responding to unique local conditions, ants have evolved into nearly ten thousand species, several hundred of which can be found in the crown of a single Amazonian tree. Fruit trees produce thousands of blossoms – an astonishing abundance of blossoms – so that another tree might germinate, take root, and grow. Birds, too, seem to have a taste for the extravagant; who could say the wood duck’s plumage is restrained?” (Sustainable Planet p. 13)
Even during tight times, we can find wonderful examples of abundance and generosity if we are looking.
In the first days of the pandemic coming into our area, you told me that already you were making donations to organizations in need. Already you were calling folks who lived alone to make sure they were okay. I love the abundance of friendly faces as we gather 3 congregations together for Sunday worship- it would have taken a lot of energy and volunteer hours to put on 3 separate online worships each week, but we came together sharing worship leader, zoom rooms, technical support, music, ideas, and most importantly caring.
I believe that when we turn our attention towards abundance, it warms our hearts and lifts our spirits. It reminds us that each of us has something to share, scraps of time and t-shirts that maybe didn’t seem like much of anything at all until we saw how needed it was. Paying attention to abundance challenges and empowers us to increase our capacity to share. Like the critters in our story, it helps us find room to shelter together during this storm.
Questions for reflection:
· Where have you noticed abundance in your own life or in the larger world?
· Is it sometimes hard to notice abundance? What is that like?
· When have you been surprised by something you were able to share that created abundance for someone else or for a community?
· What are you grateful for today?