Abundance Starts Small

Abundance is my One Word for One Year this year. God continues to use the natural world to teach me much about this word.

Here are my key observations from the summer:

#1 – Abundance is natural when the conditions are right.

#2 – Abundance does not discriminate.

#3 – Abundance is not under my control.

#4 – Abundance is often hidden in plain sight.

 (You can read more in this post, Abundance in Nature and in Life.)

Now that we’ve transitioned into fall, I continue to be surprised by the ideas and images in nature associated with this word. For example, did you know the traditional cornucopia used so often at Thanksgiving is actually symbolic of abundance?! It’s filled to overflowing with the fruits of harvest – nuts, vegetables, fruits, and flowers. What a fun discovery!

Here are 3 more observations from fall along with their relevance to life.

#5 – Abundance takes time.

I was ecstatic (as was my son) to discover elderberries out behind our house. By the time I noticed them, the elderberries had already been harvested by a woodland creature of some kind. So, no harvest for us this year. My son is convinced, though, that starting next year we’ll have enough elderberries of our own to dry and use and never have to purchase them again. I’m not so sure.

You see, there is one shrub that is about 7 feet tall with a few decent branches on it. All the other shrubs spreading out from it, however, are only from knee to waist high … ie, they’re not going to be producing (at least in abundance) anytime soon. But, give them time, and yes indeed, we will have abundant elderberries to nourish our bodies.

Abundance starts small – a seed, a nut, a young plant. It’s not always noticeable, often overlooked. And yet it’s establishing roots, becoming resilient, and preparing to yield its fruit for years into the future. Isn’t this what daily life is all about? Starting small. Establishing traditions and priorities. Learning to endure and persevere. Realizing that daily life is actually preparation for the abundance yet to come.

#6 – Abundance necessitates stewardship.

It’s one thing to have abundance. It’s another to steward it well. Harvesting, processing, storing, using – these all require time and attention. Even just a small handful of something good like rose hips can lead to hours of time investment to actually prepare it for use.

This fall we were introduced to autumn berries (aka autumn olives), and we have them everywhere! Technically an invasive species, the small fruits are edible, highly nutritious and quite enjoyable! They are also, I might add, time consuming to process and prepare. The hours of picking give way to more hours of simmering and straining to remove seeds and then the hours to dehydrate into fruit leather (which was our use of choice!).

Almost full! Still a few more to pick.

Fruit Leather!

This one abundant fruit would have been manageable had it not been accompanied by a host of other things all coming ripe around the same time. My son is loving wild edibles right now and so we also harvested rose hips, pecans in the shell, Asian pears, winged sumac (not the poisonous kind!) green tomatoes and a plethora of apples (mostly from the store) … several of these are still on my counter waiting to be processed!

I’ve realized that often I love the actual abundance and idea of using these things much more than the effort it actually takes to use them. It’s made me realize that abundance, while often a good thing, is not a gift that actually makes life easier or simpler. An abundance of new work translates into a different use of my time, and more of it. An abundance of money means using it to be a blessing to others, which then requires decisions, hospitality, practicing discernment, generosity, and so much more. Abundance does offer provision and has a host of benefits, but it is wise to consider the stewardship required as well.

#7 – Abundance is not always obvious.

Last fall was my first introduction to persimmons … and almost my last. Unbeknownst to me, the first few I tried weren’t ripe. Talk about puckering up! After researching a bit, and deciding to brave it once more, I bit into a sweetly, ripe persimmon. Delicious!

If you’ve never eaten one, the inside is literally 60-70% big brown seeds. There’s very little to actually eat, which was why recipes calling for 2-3 CUPS of pulp seemed a bit impossible, maybe even ludicrous. Until this year.

Persimmons were ripe early thanks to our warm fall. We harvested a handful here, a couple cups there from about 7 trees in total. We stored them in the refrigerator until we had time to process them. And, what do you know, we ended up with 2 ½ cups!

As I collected them over the span of several weeks, I realized that no one tree was going to give us an abundance of persimmons. Some were foraged by animals. Some were too high to reach. Some were inedible no matter how ripe they were. And yet, altogether they provided a collective abundance.

I think sometimes I overlook collective abundance in my life. A little here and a little there often just seems like a little. Until I step back and see how it all adds up to be more than enough. An encouraging word here, an encouraging word there, adds up to much needed encouragement during long weeks and months. Ten minutes of quiet here, five minutes there, breathe rest and calm into my soul. Abundance doesn’t have to be given in large amounts all at once. In fact, collective abundance might just be the norm.

Wrapping Up

Abundance starts small. But the small adds up over the weeks and months and years. Collectively, it fills our lives fuller than we could ever imagine., beckoning us to give of ourselves to steward it well and so abundantly bless others in the same manner that abundance has touched our lives.

Praying that especially this Thanksgiving season you see the abundant ways God has blessed your life and that your heart would find ways you can extend this abundance to those around you.

1 Word for 1 Year

Only 6 more weeks remain with this year’s word – time has flown by! I have a new resource in the works for the end of this year to help lead you step by step through the process of choosing a word and engaging meaningfully and differently with your word month by month throughout the year .  (Watch for this release in late December!)

I’d love to hear what you did with your word this year that you loved or what aspects were a struggle for you. Leave a comment or send me an email!

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