It’s a new year and a new day. I’ve been thinking about my word for 2012 and struggling to find the one word that seems to fit all aspects of what I hope for this coming year. But this morning it came to me light a bolt of the Spirit, so my word for 2012 is… Abundance.
This spring and summer will be the first opportunity that Jason and I have to plant a garden in New York. Throughout our lives together we have been gardeners. We met back at the University of Michigan in a class called “Practical Botany,” where the curriculum entailed learning plant species and how to plant a vegetable garden, learning how to make paper and wine and beer from plants… you know, those “practical” things you can do with plants. Needless to say, both J and I were hooked, and we have grown things on and off together throughout our relationship. Our first true garden was during the first year of our marriage, when we rented a small half-plot at a local community garden in Ann Arbor. We planted tomatoes and zucchini, corn and hot peppers, bell peppers and eggplant – anything we liked to eat, we planted. I remember during our harvest when we brought bowls and baskets of tomatoes and zucchini home, and our fun and enthusiastic search for recipes.
In New Jersey our gardening went a bit by the wayside, but we grew tomatoes and hot peppers in pots on our small balcony, and dreamed of a day when we would have more room to grow. And then our dream came true: we moved to a 3 acre property in New Hampshire, and a friend with a back-hoe drove it over and dug up a plot larger than our living room. The truth is that for me that New Hampshire plot was too big and unruly: I hate to weed but love to plant and harvest, so the hours that J spent in the garden plucking up small weeds were just unbearable to me. It was not my best gardener moment(s). But I loved bringing our oldest son out into the garden, letting him get dirty and eat straight from the plants, discovering fruits and vegetables in their various stages of growth, along with insects and rocks and everything else. It was joyous and simple.
Since moving to New York we’ve lost our connection to the land in many ways. Life here is busy and bustling, frenetic at times and stressful. Our boys get busier and we do too, and it is harder and harder for us to slow down, relax, and breathe. As I look back on my adult life, I am aware that my ability to slow down is often connected with how close to the land I live. That is to say, when I am able to get dirty on a regular basis, when I can get outside and breath fresh air every day, I am reminded of God’s creation in a tangible and simple way.
Scripture is filled with harvest language and the word abundance is used throughout to speak of riches and abundant wealth. But it is also used to speak of the abundance of God’s steadfast love given to us freely, the abundance of grace, God’s abundant peace.
I know I have a tendency to live out of scarcity, rather than our abundance. I know that I am not alone in this. I worry about our tight budget, I stress over what I cannot provide for our children, I focus often on what we do not have, rather than what we do. It is not easy, in this economic climate, with only one working parent and two hungry, growing and desirous children to live a life of what our culture tells us is “abundant.”
But. We do have a life of abundance. We are overflowing with the grace and love of God. We have an abundance of laughter and joy. We have a very full and abundant family. We are abundantly grateful for all that we have. This is what I hope is present in our minds and lives throughout 2012.
“May mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance” Jude 2
(and you too…)