What An Abundance Is Not

As we gather together and ask the Lord's blessing this Thanksgiving Day we might use the word abundance to describe our sense of gratitude. Many will have an abundance of food around the table while others will not have an abundance. We may talk about the abundance of freedom's shared by Americans or, if you are at a table that values deep discussion, you may talk about freedoms denied to people.

Abundance is a fine word to use, but sometimes we stretch the word abundance to embrace more than what it really is. To put it another way, we sometimes think that abundance as unlimited when in fact abundance is not unlimited. 

In a recent TEDRadio Hour one of the speakers shared the example that when we go into the supermarket and see tomatoes for sale everyday of the year, then we begin to believe the abundance of food provided in winter is unlimited. Nature provides an abundance in each season, but the reality is it is not unlimited. You can get all the root veggies you can imagine in winter, but no strawberries. Summer has a load of berries but can't get a pumpkin.

For the most part, nature provides an oxymoron: a limited abundance.

This Thanksgiving may you come to see the limited abundance of nature so that we may give thanks for the deep abundance of creation.

Why I do not write a thank you cards at Christmas

It was something that my mother made me do every time I received a gift, and I came to loath it: The thank you note.

Over time I came to have a greater appreciation for the handwritten thank you note and I took up this practice much more regularly (although I would like to do more of this).

However, over the past several years I have stopped writing thank you notes at Christmas. I know, this may be the worst idea ever but this is why. 

Christmas is a season that declares that there was a gift given by God that you and I did not deserve or earn. And that there is nothing that you and I can do to destroy that gift. This gift of Grace and Love in Christ is something that we call Good News. Christmas is a season that invites us all to be humble enough to receive. 

Receiving something as simple as a compliment , is difficult for me because I do one of two things - downplay or deflect. I will downplay the compliment as something that was not a big deal or something someone else could have done much better. Or I will deflect the compliment by turning your comment about me into a compliment about you. I am a black belt compliment deflector. 

The downplay and deflect is also a move that gives me the power in the situation. I disarm your words and I end up with the upper hand where I can then turn this away from me and back to you. When I do these moves I retain a position of strength and do not become vulnerable. 

Christmas is the one season that I try very hard NOT to write thank you notes for these reasons. I need to practice humility and vulnerability. I need to learn to just accept and receive. I do not need to be the powerful one or the one who always has the last word.

It is uncomfortable to not express thank you beyond a simple two words and a hug. I have been conditioned to believe that that is not a complete thank you but only a prelude. The "real" thank you is not complete until that hand written note comes. Thus giving me the final word, giving me the ability to downplay and deflect, and ensuring that I am never vulnerable.

Being vulnerable is not my favorite thing. It is not something that comes easily to me, nor is it something that I have mastered. What I know is that we all need to be more vulnerable and more humble and more willing to receive. 

That is why I do not write thank you cards at Christmas.