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Abundance over scarcity: trusting God to provide

This Life Lines column was originally intended to be my last. It was 15 years ago this month that I wrote my first column for Catholic New York, and this seemed like a nice tidy way to bring things to a close. Plus, as you may recall from last month’s column on humility, I thought I had nothing left to say. Then a few things happened to make me rethink that plan.

The tipping point was a trifecta of positivity that came flooding into my life all at once: more than a few really nice emails from readers of Catholic New York; my return to regular yoga class and at least a bare-bones prayer life; and, the icing on the cake, a five-day lake vacation to Hadlock Pond in the lower Adirondack Mountains.

As I kayaked across the crystal clear water, watching a hawk circle overhead and a heron standing in watchful silence at the end of a dock a few feet away, I suddenly felt myself breathing again. I realized that I’d been holding my breath for close to a year. At least that’s how it felt. Finally, there in the silence and solitude, I felt myself exhale.

I began rhythmically praying with my breath two favorite lines from Scripture – “I am with you always, until the end of time” and “Be still and know that I am God.” As I crossed the lake in a moving meditation, I began to feel the latter quote morphing into a personalized version of that verse: Be still and know that all is God—people, animals, creation. At first it was a silent mantra, but the next thing I knew, I was saying it out loud in time with the movement of my paddle. With each repetition, I felt lighter. From there I found even higher ground, a thought that would not fade: We live in abundance. Always. Not wealth, not success, not power, but abundance. Our God is not a God of scarcity. He is a God of blessings and feasts, too much, excess.

So often we approach life from a place of lack, even if it is imagined lack. We hoard what we have, clinging tight to things we’re afraid to lose, be it a job, our youth, our possessions, even our faith. We worry there won’t be enough of whatever it is we need because we think “enough” comes only when we hit a certain level of success or saintliness. But God gives us more than enough simply for showing up to this party called life. He gives us blessings in abundance, and the thing we tend to forget is that when we stop worrying so much about what we need or what we deserve or what we want, we open up a great big space for abundance to rush in. And without even realizing it, what we need is suddenly right there before us.

St. Therese of Lisieux wrote: “I find just when I need them, certain lights…and it isn’t during my hours of prayer that these are most abundant, but rather, in the midst of my daily occupations.”

Can we begin to see abundance, sense abundance, even when we’re not on the mountaintop, or, in my case, on the lake? In the midst of our daily activities? Even in the dark valleys of struggle and strife?

It’s not easy, but what if, by some slim chance, you could let go, just a bit, and not worry about tomorrow and see the abundance in the right now. There is abundance somewhere, even if you’re in a bad place, even if you’re saddled with worry, even if it’s hidden beneath piles of bills. Stop holding on so tight and see what happens. Loosen when fear tells you to cling. Give when you might be inclined to withhold. Put a dream out into the universe and see what God does with it. And don’t forget to breathe.

This column first appeared the Aug. 4, 2016, issue of Catholic New York. 

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Linda #

    There is something about being in nature.

    August 9, 2016
  2. That was JUST what I needed today … thank you!! Right here in my everyday reading of morning email 😉

    August 10, 2016
  3. Mary,
    As a regular reader of Catholic New York your column is one I read with regularity. As a woman I enjoy hearing about faith from a feminine perspective. My husband and I are dealing with some big stuff right now. We’ve been here before, and this reminder is good timing. God-timing.
    It’s hard but it’s abundant.
    It is the place where saying that I trust God to provide, means that the act of trusting God to provide is in action.

    God bless you, thank you for continuing to write.


    August 12, 2016
  4. Jim Schneider #

    Amen Mary!

    IMHO it is our humanity and ego that keeps us from experiencing this THROUGHOUT our lives…

    We complicate faith and life so much with our own expectations…

    To maintain some sense of sanity in this heated election year my daily prayer is to simply… and focus on…

    1. Love the Lord
    2. Love our neighbors
    3. Rejoice ceaselessly
    4. Pray
    5. Forgive
    6. Love, love, love…

    August 12, 2016
  5. Thanks for writing this very personal piece, Mary. I love what you say about God gives us more than enough simply for showing up to this party called life. I am beginning to see it that way too – that we take for granted what we are ‘born’ with.

    But I still have difficulty thinking with abundance. There are often times when my fear of scarcity rules me. I will try what you say about loosen when fear tells you to cling and give when you might be inclined to withhold (now that I remember it, I once did give when I felt afraid, and my fear turned into relief).

    November 16, 2016

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