Our November ministry theme is abundance. I’ve been wondering: what are the good things we possess in abundance? This feels like such an important question to me, in part because 2016 has been a year of perceived scarcity. This year’s election cycle has focused so much on what we lack, on what’s wrong with the United States, and on what’s wrong with the world, that it’s easy to forget what we possess in abundance. Not only the election, but multiple, high-profile acts of violence (terrorist attacks, police violence and anti-police violence) have drawn our attention to anger and rage, to the ways in which the very fabric of our society seems frayed and torn. To the extent we focus our attention on these acts (and sometimes we do need to focus on them) there is always the possibility that we will begin to feel small, isolated, frightened and angry ourselves. At times like these, it is essential that we ask: What are the good things we have in abundance?
Of course, the answer is different for different people. Some will name family and friends who love and support them. Some will name the UUS:E community that loves and supports them, and hopefully challenges them to live a principled life. Some will name opportunities for growth and learning. Others will name opportunities for service. Still others will name meaningful work. Some will name only the basics: access to food, clean water, shelter—and even these are lacking at times. Others will name access to health care, higher education, technology, and transportation; or access to clean, breathable air, green spaces, hiking trails, Nature. And some will speak of their relationship with the Sacred, God, the Great Mystery—whatever name they choose. Yes, we each have different answers to the question, but I’ve never encountered anyone who doesn’t have some semblance of an answer, even at the lowest moments of their lives. What are the good things we have in abundance?
As we gain clarity about our answers to this question, we also gain strength, centeredness and resilience to meet the cynicism and mistrust that seem so pervasive in our nation. That is, when we approach life from an understanding of what we possess in abundance as opposed to what we lack, we give ourselves grounding. We give ourselves a center.
When anger and rage threaten to destabilize our nation, we will more easily remember that there is more to life than anger and rage if we understand the good things we possess in abundance,
When fear of the “other” threatens to divide our communities, we will more easily remember that there are options other than fear; that there are ways to work together and stay united—if we have a deep sense of abundance.
When violence erupts, we will more easily remember to respond with love and compassion, if we are grounded in an understanding of abundance.
If we are clear about the good things we possess in abundance, then, when people complain about increasing scarcity, lack and unfairness, we will know to listen and learn, trusting there is a way beyond scarcity, trusting there is enough for everyone.
As New England farmers bring in the final harvest of the year; as crimson, gold, orange and brown leaves pile up in yards and woods; as we enter the Thanksgiving season – let’s give priority to asking and answering this question: What are the good things we have in abundance?