A neighbor needed some significant supplies for her toddler bit back. Again, we shared this need with a wider community. Poof! Scarcity turned to abundance.
We heard about another neighbor who is behind on rent and has to move out. He and his dog needed a tent to move into. We have an extra. We offered it. So did another neighbor and the need was met.
A friend of mine told me she is looking for leg warmers. She doesn't need them per say. But she'd like to have some. I have some money left from my spending money at the end of the month. I found a pair I thought she'd like. So I bought them for her. And I'm sure she and I have got back and forth in that manner an infinite number of times in our friendship. Again, abundance.
Years - over a decade ago - when a friend was having her second kid, she needed a chest of drawers. I had my childhood one stashed away in my mom's shed. To this day, her oldest is using my old chest of drawers. And now that we're expecting, she's gifting us her youngest's chest of drawers/changing table. A circle of abundance.
This is the abundance system God created. Like when manna came from the heavens to hungry wandering Hebrews, there is enough in this world for all of us. So long as we don't hoard.
But we don't always believe there is enough. Or we don't trust that our generosity will be met with the generosity of others, so we hoard. I could have held on to my childhood chest of drawers for my future children. And like manna, it would have rotted in the shed for an extra 11 years before going to use. But I could have been assured we had a chest of drawers for my potential future children. I could have held on to that extra money at the end of the month so that I'll have more next month. But then I'd miss out on receiving the generosity of someone else if the month ends up being tight.
I once anonymously gave a friend $300 because she really missed her grandfather but couldn't afford to travel home to visit him. At the time, I had all of my inheritance that I'd ever have from my grandfather. So I gave some to her.
A year later when my grandmother died and I didn't have the $500 to fly home for her funeral, there was no anonymous benefactor to fund my trip home. Generosity had driven me from abundance to scarcity. And I missed my grandmother's funeral and my sweet shy non-public speaking mother giving the eulogy. This is what we're all afraid of at heart. What if manna doesn't come tomorrow? I should hold on to two portions so that I'm not found without the next day. There is not enough to go around. Or if there is, the few are hoarding it. So if I don't hoard my little bit, I'll be SOL. So, I'm sorry but you can't have the chest of drawers or the extra room in our food budget or the $300 you need to go see your grandfather. I may need it later. I don't trust others to share. So I will hold on to as much as I can get my hands on to safe guard my fearful future.
Even when we have abundance - like my grandfather's inheritance - it is easy to get stuck in believing scarcity is around the corner, so all the more reason to hold on with a tight fist to my current abundance.
Re: my last blog post, I think this is why we want to make abortion illegal but don't want to make legal provisions to provide for mother and child. I don't want to pay higher taxes because it takes away what padding I have for my own future. What if an unexpected pregnancy costs me money? I can't be helping out with your unexpected pregnancy when it might happen to me and I don't trust my neighbors or government to help me out. You can't have your abortion because of my Bible. But I'm going to ignore the stories and commands in my Bible that tell me I have to help pay for the child you're not allowed to abort.
This is a major theme in our culture. It is a major theme in this frightening (and frighteningly annoying) election cycle.
BUT if we read the Christian and Hebrew scriptures, we have no choice to believe that there is no scarcity. If we all take what we need and share what we do not need there is abundance. It is written over and over and over again in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.
And what of the times when we meet someone else's need and our own need is not met? This will happen. Count on it. If you live generously, there will be that heartbreaking time when no one is generous in return and you lose something that is precious to you. I was not at my grandmother's funeral. I will never have the ability to be at my grandmother's funeral. That is lost to me.
But then I think about my Grandmother. She read straight through the Hebrew and Christian scriptures every year. She knew her Bible like she knew herself. Possibly better. My grandmother was a generous woman. Worse than missing her funeral would be living out of scarcity and hoarding for fear of missing out. Much more than being in the small town of Sultan, WA instead of Boston, MA on the morning of her funeral, my Grandmother is honored in that I gave $300 to a friend who missed her grandfather and that I wouldn't undo that to buy my own plane ticket a year later.
I'm going to post more on abundance and scarcity tomorrow - on a global scale. But for today, imagine your neighborhood. Friends in North Everett, think hard on North Everett.
- Where are you and where are neighbors holding on to their resources that might meet the needs of others? Resources of time, treasure and talent.
- Where are there needs that your/our neighborhood has everything needed to meet - but we just don't meet them because we cannot collaborate or share or sacrifice with no promise of return?
- And what are the stories of times your/our neighborhood has come together amid scarcity and shared so that there is abundance? What are the loaves and fish stories of your/our neighborhood?
May our imaginations run wild as we contemplate what could happen in our neighborhoods if we all lived from a sense of abundance and generosity where this broken world attempts to woo us into scarcity - of time, of talents, of treasures. And as our imaginations run wild, may our feet follow.
In your abundant mercy, Lord hear our prayer.