Thursday, October 30, 2008
"In the human world, abundance does not happen automatically. It is created when we have the sense to choose community, to come together to celebrate and share our common store. When the scare resource is money or love or power or words, the true law of life is that we generate more of whatever seems scarce by trusting its supply and passing it around. Authentic abundance does not lie in secured stockpiles of food or cash or influence or affection but in belonging to a community where we can give those goods to others who need them--and receive them from others when we are in need." I just finished reading a phenomenal book called Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation, by Parker J. Palmer. It was truly one of the most inspirational books I've ever read, second only to Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L'Engle. The quotation above is taken from the last chapter of Palmer's book, and I find it meaningful on so many levels. First, because it is fall, and we are halfway between Canadian and American thanksgivings and B and I are inspired to make pumpkin pie from scratch this weekend (if we can overcome what seems to be a major pumpkin shortage in the city of Calgary!). Growing up, fall has always meant drawing attention to, thanking God for and reveling in the abundance that is harvest. Thanksgiving dinner was never a private affair in the S household. It simply had to be shared, particularly with one family that has been good friends with my family all my growing up years. The sense of joy in abundance at Thanksgiving dinner was always partly a result of being able to share it in community with our friends and family (and also partly the result of my mum's ability to create a hyggelig, cozy occasion!). Second, this idea of abundance and community makes me think about church. Potluck meals that are key part of all the churches I have attended are a simple example of how abundance is felt and shared amongst people at church. But of course, it also goes much deeper. Within our spiritual family, we should feel the abundance of God's grace as we celebrate communion together and learn about each other's spiritual walks. This, of course, does not always happen. When we come to church with the idea in mind to rather hoard all of our energy to ourselves, rather than sharing it, everyone loses. The abundance that SHOULD be church then does not exist. In addition, principles that Jesus preaches include sharing with those who have less, rather than hoarding for one's self. If every one did that, we would not need the social safety nets that countries create, to greater and lesser degrees, to protect the weak and needy. Finally, abundance as the result of community reminds me of another book that I am reading at present: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver, another of my favourite writers. Kingsolver writes about her and her family's experience of buying all of their food locally for one whole year, and the joys and difficulties of accomplishing this goal. One of the messages that Kingsolver relays is that when consumers buy their food locally--well, when they buy ANY products locally--they are building into a small community of producers. Who in turn support the community further, creating an effect where all locals benefit. Shopping locally, for food as the Kingsolver family does, or in whatever way, again is an illustration of abundance occuring within a community. If we all are willing to pay just a little bit more for a carrot that is grown in our home area, rather than being cheap and buying carrots from Mexico (for a very small example), think about how this could spread and develop local markets, rather than being spread over the 1000s of kilometers to Mexico, where the carrot producers there see very little of the actual money you spent at the grocery store. Anyway, those are just some thoughts I've been having as of late. Share the celebration of Thanksgiving with others; When a man asks for your coat, give him your shirt too; Shop locally!