Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Abundance and Scarcity

Last Sunday's Gospel reading was on the miracle of the loaves and fishes. I attended the local Mass at Mary Magdalen the First Apostle, a congregation of women and men who meet once a month for Mass presided over by a Roman Catholic Woman Priest. We have our Eucharistic celebration at a local Episcopal church. The homily was given by two women who spoke about seeing things from the point of view of scarcity and abundance.

They used the miracle to demonstrate how acting from a mindset of scarcity, like the apostles in the story, leads one to be less generous, to send people away to find their own food, to hoard what we have. Jesus, however, acted from a perception of abundance, offered the food they had, five loaves and two fish, and with that 5,000 families were fed.

The modern interpretation of this miracle, which strips it of any miraculous qualities, is to say that when the baskets were passed, people in the crowd brought out their own stores of food and offered them to their neighbors. Thus, the food was all there from the beginning, but hidden and protected by people who feared there would not be enough. Although I miss the mirace sense of it, this interpretation is a helpful way to see the story.

This is always a good sermon for me to hear. Especially now, as I'm preparing to go from a full-time job to a part-time job and leave the security of benefits and a salary that is truly more than I need. I feel myself pulling in, even to the point of decreasing some of my charitable giving. You can hide behind the title "simple living," but I did buy more canning jars today (more than I need, in hopes of hoarding more tomatoes) and could certainly keep up my monthly gift to the food shelf.

I also find myself facing my garden this way. It is time to hoard, to put away food for winter, and it is clear that I don't have nearly enough. No green beans! Not enough raspberries for jam! Ruined onions (and by ruined, I just mean I have to actually eat them now). The stingiest zucchini vines on the planet! The drenched and blighted tomatoes are holding on, and I'm willing them to ripen despite two days of terrible storms.

And mostly, I have to tell myself to cut it out. Stop! Because this is actually the time of abundance. I have big bowls of sliced cucumber salad and potato salad in the fridge, a couple huge cabbages, and I've set up my little basket of extra beets,onions and carrots to go into my sister-in-law's cellar storage room. Every few days I go pick two cups of basil and make another small batch of pesto for the freezer-- I want more, am sure someone else nearby has a LOT more than I do and wonder how can I get my hands on some of it-- but really, I need to stop. We are eating glorious food every day, here in August.

The world around us is overgrown and lovely. The monarch butterflies are in constant ecstacy, hanging and dancing in fused pairs over the prairie. After the last storm, and with the arrival of August, the swimming pond is clearing up and soon we'll have the best swimming of summer. With dragonflies and swallows as companions.

It's a time of abundance. In fact, it is the extra, what we can't possible eat now and what can't be given away, that goes into storage for winter. And yes, the farmers are growing even more than me, will have even more extra, and I can buy it from them at the co-op or the winter market, when it will be so nice to see them. So I have to remind myself to see the abundance, to give instead of hoard, even though it should be the easiest and most obvious thing in the world.

You can bet this cateripiller on my volunteer dill plant knows it is the season of abundance!

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