Tag Archives: abundance

Passion: Windows of Agates

Cincinnati Death Record

Cincinnati Death Record

Sunday morning

During the passing of the sacrament I decided to prep myself for Sunday School by reading the scriptural passage we’d be studying. Isaiah 54. That first verse caught my attention in a visceral way:

“Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord.”

I know many women for whom fertility issues are a great source of anxiety and grief. My own three children were hard to come by, but relative to those who want children but can never have them or lose them early I can only imagine the heartbreak. And, given Isaiah’s setting where being barren (even though it may have been the guy’s problem!) was deemed “shameful”, the problem was exacerbated by that unjust layer of societal disrespect. Continue reading

Munching on a Parable

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The parable of the talents bugs me, so I have spent some time wrestling with it, chomping on it, working some useful meaning from it into my bones.

I like that that the wealthy man gives the same reward to both servants who actually do something productive with what he’s given them:
Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

Being a “ruler over many things” isn’t necessarily the future I want, but I just interpret that as “good stuff happens.” And I’m all over entering into the joy of the lord.

However, the poor third risk-averse guy recognizes that his boss has some markers of a personality disorder.

The servant knows the master is “hard.” (In fact the master admits he doesn’t have the most scrupulous business practices!) The boss doesn’t give him any instructions on what to do with the money; he just expects to collect it when he gets back. And heaven forbid the servant should lose the money in a venture gone wrong! So the servant does what he thinks safest to make sure nothing bad happens to it: he buries it. Can we really fault him?

Sure enough, the master returns and goes ballistic. Not only is the servant’s name Mud for not reading the master’s mind and earning some interest at least, but he’s cast into outer darkness.

Harsh, what?

I’m even more troubled by what I discover when I search for myself in this story. The truth is that I’m usually plagued by the fear that I’m not doing enough with what I’ve been given. I’m anxious that I won’t figure out the master’s mind about what to do with what I have. (And now I’m referring to the contemporary meaning of talents, not the ancient sum of money kind of talents; and I’m reading master as “Master”). I’m afraid that the Master is going to suss out my inner dumbness and whomp my backside for not recognizing just how much more I could have accomplished if I hadn’t been such a timid nincompoop.

(Where did I get such a skewed image of what the real Master is like? Hmm. Maybe from simplistic readings of multi-layered parables like this, from vast passages of the Old Testament, and from not asking enough questions?)

Wait a minute! Maybe I’m getting more out of this parable than I thought! The master – in his reasonable frame of mind – lauds those first two servants for being “good and faithful” and rewards them with abundance. Goodness. Faith. I think I’m on to something.

It’s the fretful, anxious, uptight servant whose mind is all focused on the possibility of calamity and loss who ends up with … calamity and loss.

I’m not saying that this resolves all my quibbles with the personality of the master portrayed in this story, but when I sit in this story, when I gnaw on its bones, I feel myself called to let go of my fears and experiment with the talents I’ve been given, have some fun, give ‘em a go! It’s not a comparison with the others around me who have five to my two or ten to my four. It’s a mind set of acceptance, gratitude, expansion, joy!

Abundant, what?

This is only an appetizer of what this story, what the scriptures, can reveal when I get in there and munch. I’ve got an appetite for more!

When Two is Too Many

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Beneath the rubble of Christmas morning, I chanced upon a small dolly, cozily tucked up to his armpits in a red and green felt stocking. I could call the gesture motherly, but I knew better by the skew of his striped nightcap, and then, by the presence of foil-wrapped chocolate Santas still underneath his feet: he was being ignored.

Surely this was wrong! My five year old loves dolls! Or, as I’ve learned: a doll. Singularly. Just one. The doll’s name is “Amy-lissa” and she is loved and revered and loved and cuddled and loved. (And loved.) She naps in a crib made from a cardboard box reinforced with packing tape and more cardboard; she’s warmed in a blankie knit especially for her, when, snowy night, movie on, old yarn from my bin, my daughter was unpicky about the colors and corrected me with a patient tsk when I referred to Amy-lissa as a toy. (I used the last length of my fluffy red wool as penance.)

Measuring the probability of distraction and oversight on this new doll, and wanting justice for the situation (ie: reassurance at my Christmas present to her), I paused amid my garbage run and took the new baby to my daughter playing with Amy-lissa and squatting to their level introduced them:  “Did you see this? I think it’s a little brother for Amy-lissa.”

My five year old, pink-cheeks flecked with chocolate croissant and cocoa from breakfast, took a deep breath and sighed dramatically at her plight:

“Mom.” She paused, her brown eyes were liquid, deep, certain: “It’s too hard to love two babies. You can have him.”

Because I’m in love with my daughter as much as she’s in love with her Amy-lissa, the point made me laugh inside even as I nodded seriously and hugged her, her hair wild against my cheek. I felt her shoulders unburden as I promised: “I will.”

She is wise, my little girl. I’m more Mae West I suppose, and too much of a good thing is wonderful—if one pair of boots makes me feel cute, then one every season will probably make me feel like a goddess, and if one square of dark chocolate in the evening makes me happy, then the entire bar promises bliss, nirvana, heaven, transcendence…

(Where was I again?)

Anyway, I wonder now, about this abundance. I wonder why it is a struggle to be grateful when often times our needs are not really needs, but mere wants—and everything given is in excess, in “addition to.”

Does abundance make it harder to appreciate what we have? Are too many “things” a distraction? Do we take our blessings for granted, seeking the next thing? Or do we accept what we have as enough? And do we know, that when we truly appreciate the one, it blooms into a blessing more abundant? Because gratitude will do that—and multiply our blessings worth like light through a prism.

Eventually, I send the baby boy doll back to Amazon, tucked snugly into his box with a little wish of finding his rightful girl cuddled against his fabric body. I send him away with that hope because he was adorable and I did want to keep him (and his wonderfully scented head that smelled like my childhood), but knew his destiny with us would be to languish in our playroom, buried in a bin.  He simply wasn’t needed here: my daughter was content with what she already had, not empty by what she lacked.

Somewhere I bet there’s a little girl with his name on her heart and she will spoil him with the homemade accoutrement that he deserves. In that spirit, I am happy to send him away, happy to say my daughter is the proud owner of one doll. Because now I see that when we truly love what we already have (and maybe it’s just one thing), that one is enough.