On the lookout for abundance

I was starting to see that the good in our lives is spiritual; it has its source in our creator, God, and can never run out. 

My financial situation looked dire. Some work that had made up a substantial portion of my income was unexpectedly discontinued, and it didn’t seem possible that I could live much longer on what was in my bank account. Then a simple inspiration led to a shift in thought that began to turn things around. 

One morning during this anxious time, I was driving while listening to a radio interview with the American writer Annie Dillard. She was talking about her new book of essays that had just come out, The Abundance: Narrative Essays Old and New. When the interviewer asked how she had chosen that title, she spoke about feeling that her writing was a gift she should give the world. She mentioned a quote that was in the front of the book, part of a verse from the Quran: “They will question thee concerning what they should expend. Say: The Abundance.” An included essay from her book The Writing Life says: “One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Don’t hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. . . . Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you.” 

I felt I was being called to give generously and trust that my daily needs would be met.

Her message reminded me of a line from a familiar hymn: “Share Thy joy and spend it freely” (Elizabeth C. Adams, Christian Science HymnalNo. 58, © CSBD). I also thought of the children of Israel in the wilderness during the Exodus being instructed to take just the amount of manna they needed for that day; anything over would spoil and be useless. I felt I was being called to adopt a similar attitude that included both a willingness to give generously and a trust that my daily needs would be met. These two things are not mutually exclusive, because they are both based on the law of divine abundance. 

As I kept driving that day, listening intently to the interview, I stopped at a red light and saw that I was behind a car with a bumper sticker that said, “Abundance is everywhere.” I was in awe. 

I was starting to see that the good in our lives is spiritual; it has its source in our creator, God, and can never run out. That week I had been studying the current Bible Lesson from the Christian Science Quarterly, which was on the topic “Substance” and included this verse from Luke (the version here is from the New Living Translation): “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap” (Luke 6:38). 

I felt inspired to take that instruction literally. I was impelled to buy a couple of gifts for a friend who was expecting. And I told a friend I was supposed to have dinner with that I wanted to treat her. Then, a few days later I got a message from someone saying that an anonymous donor wanted to give me funds for an ecumenical conference on Christian unity that I had wanted to attend but could not afford. I still felt the need to be frugal but found myself losing the nagging feeling of being poor.

One day I attended a lecture in a beautiful museum and thought how much I would love to spend the day there, but the admission fee seemed out of reach. Then I thought of that bumper sticker that said “Abundance is everywhere” and realized I could enjoy the “museum” of beauty that was all around me. On a walk the next morning, I noticed the vivid colors of the flowers, the sun persistently peeking through clouds, and a tree that had paper hearts hung on it, and I felt as though I were in a museum. 

We can find freedom from lack and demonstrate abundance, no matter what our bank balance is.

Of course, we don’t give to others for the sake of getting but rather for the joy of being what we naturally are, the generous reflection of infinite Love, God. This whole experience taught me that we can find freedom from lack and demonstrate abundance, no matter what our bank balance is. Keeping in mind Mary Baker Eddy’s directive “God requires wisdom, economy, and brotherly love to characterize all the proceedings of the members of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist” (Church Manual, p. 77), I prayed for guidance and was led to make some practical adjustments to my housing situation and financial practices that made it possible for me to live on my current income. But my income also gradually grew with unexpected opportunities that came my way—and I had a lovely time when I did eventually get to visit that museum. 

Mrs. Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, had much experience herself with living on a low income and facing difficult financial circumstances. But she generously gave of her time and money even as she tirelessly shared her profound spiritual discovery with the world. Mrs. Eddy kept a note in the back of her copy of her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures that read: “Whenever there seems to be a need or lack in your experience, this simply indicates the scientific fact that this seeming need is already supplied by God’s gracious abundance. Then give thanks with your whole heart because you have learned in Christian Science that God’s supply is on hand” (We Knew Mary Baker Eddy, Expanded Edition, Vol. II, p. 484). 

I have found that giving thanks for the spiritual substance in our lives, even before we see it manifested, has practical results, enabling us to continue to more seamlessly experience the divine truth displayed on that bumper sticker: Abundance is everywhere.

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Milestones, not millstones
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