Imagine this: everything I need is right here.
That sentence comes from Rob Bell’s Wisdom series. It’s an idea that has stuck with me over the past weeks. The idea of providence, abundance, divine flow.
I’ve taken back up Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, using it as a springboard for some self-navigated creative therapy. She affirms the idea there is enough, there is room for everyone.
This week she talked about how when after people have been hoping for something for a long time, upon receiving it or the doors opening towards it, they often self-sabotage. As if we cannot believe it might be possible that our desire be satisfied, if not quenched. She talks about how some people feel so uncomfortable with the early stages of creative recovery that they shun it completely.
I can relate, to a different extent. If it looks like things are lining up, I’m more likely to believe it is too good to be true. It’s as if something within me puts up a wall when it looks like I might just get what I hope for. It’s like I can’t accept it for myself, like I need to expect life to be difficult, hard, more ‘real’.
Which is why I need to believe in the abundance. To believe that goodness comes from a place that doesn’t run dry.
I’ve been captivated by ideas of wisdom for a while now. Proverbs 18:4 talks about wisdom flowing up from an artesian spring (as opposed to words, rushing like a river flood). Artesian springs are geographically-designed as a well-spring; they do not run dry. And that’s more the way of the abundance. It’s more the idea of manna, of daily bread, of taking the thing and asking for the next.
In a month’s time, I’ll be setting up my life such that I’ll ask for my daily needs. I will have a roof over my head, and other daily life items in place, but will be far from the people I have spent time with for a while. I will be without the daily humdrum, though structure, of work, without much more than a couple of leads and a whole lot of desire to roll out the landscape and give space to something I have long deemed unworthy of such space.
In preparation, I’ve set myself Annie Dillard’s most recent book of essays, aptly titled The Abundance, as my reading. She has the observer’s eye and the mind to note such facts as ‘a ton of dust, generated by burned-out meteorites, falls like snow on to our planet every hour.’ To belong to the landscape rather than possess it as owner, is another idea she advocates – and that is the kind of providence we can seize if we open our eyes and ask for it. It can run through us, we can pass it on or pass it down.
Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way) talks a lot about creative flow. Her ideas lead me to believe I am a vessel. My creativity is about something bigger than myself. God has no problem with giving me bucket-loads of creative fodder. He is not anxious that I will get on some sort of conceited high – and therefore close doors or whatever it be to humble me – no, if I believe in the providence, I believe what I am giving not about me. I didn’t earn it.
The famous Beatitudes record Jesus’ counter-cultural paradoxes: ‘blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.’ Christopher Page unpacks it beautifully in his blog so well-titled In a Spacious Place.
It is hard to be gentle when you are responsible for running the show or when you have to look out for yourself all the time and keep your guard up. Gentleness does not work well in a world of anxiety and fear where everyone is fighting desperately for his or her little piece of a pie that feels far too small….
… inheriting the earth means being fed and nourished in the depths of our being so that we can be sustained even when external things let us down.
It is the gentle people who are sustained because they are willing to let go. Having come to the end of striving, grasping, demanding, needing, craving, and longing, they have learned to trust and to live in response to the inner prompting of God’s Spirit.
In my imagination, I see abundance as these deep conical flask that opens into the earth. I can draw out of it, and keep drawing, and there is still enough. It is like the artesian well.
And while I believe in drawing, seeking, asking, I also believe in eyes opening to what is all around. In John Eldredge’s book Desire, he writes of a friend emailing him to state an indescribable beauty he witnessed that week. Eldredge affirms and validates that beauty as an antidote to grief and as a herald of the great restoration.
We need not fear indulging here, he writes, the experience of beauty is unique to all the other pleasures in this: there is no possessive quality to it. Just because you love a landscape doesn’t mean you have to acquire the landscape.
This is what I am coming to know as the abundance.