Years ago, when my parents were both still alive they had a sofa and a love seat that I loved. After they were gone, our son was about to graduate from Grad School and go on to his first post-college job. The sofa and love seat had a home and would go on to make many people happy. After Quanah and his wife, Erin, got a new sofa/love seat set, grandma's furnishings moved on to friends of theirs who were now also working in the area, post-grad-school. Later, these same friends were moving up in the world, bought grown-up furniture, and contacted Quanah about grandma's couch. They had met a woman in crisis who needed furniture and would Q mind if they moved the sofa and love seat to her? No problem was the short answer. When Quanah told me, I am comforted by the thought that so many people had made use of these pieces and, in the end, provided comfortable seating for a woman who had been left with nothing. It had been 13 years from the time my mother had passed. That was a lot of goodness being spread around.
We all have an abundance of something and not necessarily a good something. Material abundance comes most quickly to mind. Spiritual abundance follows, then physical or artistic giftedness perhaps. Are we attractive, healthy, and intelligent and to what degree? These are all good somethings but what if you suffer from an abundance of "want" in your life, or perhaps an abundance of "ignorance"?
Charles Dickens showed these two downsides of the idea of abundance most vividly in his book, "A Christmas Carol". With the stark images of two children as symbols of our responsibility to each other, we are shown that we all share the same present and the same future. If we don't care for the least among us - the weak, the hungry, the sick, the elderly, and the frail, we are doomed. If we don't care, we won't show our children the example of caring, and there will eventually be no one to care about anyone.
So, I think about my abundance and all that I have been given. I have to ask myself how much of it do I actually need? Accumulation is rampant in our society. I'm as guilty as anyone and it is because I have been blessed with much in my life, that I now examine what I've actually done with it. No confessional coming, I promise, but I have made a bit of a list.
Of course, when you start to really think about wants and needs, they tend to grow so, be warned. If you decide to go there, your own list could take you into challenging waters. Starting your list, you may find yourself feeling very heavy. The good news is that's the door you walk through to begin seeing the need around you.
As we age, we may come to discover that the things we hold on to, are the things we least the need. Each time I go upstairs at home, I find myself getting rid of things. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I'm not a fan of going upstairs of any sort, let alone the ones here at home. But I do, on occasion, and when I do I always come down feeling a bit lighter.
"Life is but a breath", a wise woman once told me. Blessings, suffering, and loss all contribute to our abundance list and taking an inventory of abundances can put order to one's life. So, be brave. Take inventory. No matter where your discoveries lead you, you will always have the choice to change the results, especially if you don't like the outcome. And then, you too will find opportunities to spread the goodness around.