Once again, we find ourselves immersed in a traditional season of abundance. To prepare for our Thanksgiving feasts, we pushed clattering carts toppling with food across grocery parking lots. We prepared more than we needed and ate until waistlines required expanding. We gorged, we wasted, and in many cases, we forgot that not everyone in the world experiences the abundance we take for granted.
Now, thoughts focus on Christmas giving and getting. Wallets inflate to purchase gifts no one really needs. Because of the urging of parents and grandparents, our children concentrate on what to ask for during visits with Santa. No one wonders, “How can all the new “stuff” fit in spaces already cluttered from past excesses?”
When did I become such a “Bah-Humbug” person? (My husband suspects it began when my parents cut the ends out of my outgrown shoes so my toes would have space to expand.) Yet, I too enjoy giving. Few things bring more pleasure than purchasing for children. (Add the word “educational” to a toy description and I’m all over it!)Perhaps our challenge lies in balancing abundance with acts of gratitude. When we realize that everything we eat, wear, or use arrives on the backs of laborers or from the bounty of nature, we become aware of true costs. With increased awareness, we wake up and ask, “What if we begin fulfilling our life purpose of supporting all life on this planet?
I wonder how the market would react if we insisted on “made in America” tags? Would land development be transformed if all of us reflected on the value of trees and wild flowers, which we rip from the earth to replace with asphalt? What would happen if ordinary people decided to protect the earth with defiance and courage? Would these actions help balance our abundance by honoring a greater purpose to give back to the earth and to humanity?
As I contemplate my own abundance, I sit in a twenty-year old motor home parked in our driveway. Although this life style does not fit my pictures, I realize that millions of individuals would die for such comfort. How can I respond to the blessings in my own life? Maybe this Christmas, I’ll purchase tickets to plays, musicals, and sports events instead of giving “things” to our grandchildren. Maybe a day trip to an interesting site can replace a technological gadget. Maybe I’ll invite grandchildren to share a portion of their allowances with World Vision.
According to Robin Kimmerer in the latest copy of YES, “unbridled exploitation threatens the life that surrounds us.” She recommends giving back to the Earth through gratitude, “in ceremony, through acts of practical reverence and land stewardship.” A small beginning step might look like filling our carts with what we need and then stopping. I wonder if simple acts of awareness can replace or at least accompany the gifts we give to our loved ones during this season of abundance?
Kimmerer, Robin. “In a Season of Abundance, Remember the Honorable Harvest.” Yes! Winter 2016.
World Vision (worldivisiongifts.org)
P.O. Box 70359
Tacoma, WA 98481-0359