I walked into my curling club for the first time in 11 months and saw my team preparing to go out on the ice. I immediately teared up, telling them, “I’m so happy to be here, I think I’m going to cry!” We shared a laugh and hugs, and revelled in the moment of our mutual love of a sport and the camaraderie associated with it.
The moment of “all is right with the world” didn’t last. After the game we stepped back into a different reality, where lists of noes and don’ts and crossed-out symbols face us at every turn.
I try to remember what life was like, what life felt like, before the pandemic. What carefree nonsense was it, when I could step outside without checking for a clean mask, or pausing to ensure my vax status was in hand? What did it feel like to share a room on a weekend getaway with friends? When an invitation to an evening out elicited an enthusiastic “yes” without first over-analyzing how many contacts I’ve had recently and if I should dial it back for a few days?
In the midst of these “grrrrs” of life, I read this line from John 10: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” God’s abundance. Not a thing of the past, and not something to hope for in the future, but something to be lived, experienced and discovered right now.
We sometimes get caught up in the thought that abundance must be grand and expansive, like a Thanksgiving feast replete with table extensions and voices reverberating throughout the house; a vacation that includes an airplane and a multi-starred hotel; or a worship service that hits 100 percent capacity. Fullness and joy may, indeed, be found in these experiences. But our lives, more often than not, are filled with quiet and more mundane activities.
My journey of God’s abundance is sprinkled with seemingly contradictory experiences. Some days abundance is grandiose, found in a mountain hike where I’m filled with awe of all that God has created and the wonder that, within this expanse, there is a place for me. Some days it’s found in my backyard Adirondack chair, watching the leaves fall. I have found abundance in the hubbub of a crowd of strangers enjoying a shared concert experience, and also in the anticipation that comes with opening the first page of a new book.
While the path to spiritual well-being may be largely individual and introspective in nature, the journey isn’t complete without a response that turns us outward. Receiving and giving, gratitude and generosity are two sides of the same coin. The peace and joy of living in God’s abundance comes with a call to reciprocate, to share, to give and to live freely and generously.
While restrictions to our movements and activities are likely to remain for the foreseeable future, there are no limitations to experiencing God’s abundance, and there are no limitations to exploring creative and generous ways of sharing the goodness that we’ve received.
Brenda Tiessen-Wiens is moderator of Mennonite Church Alberta and a member of Foothills Mennonite Church in Calgary. Exchanging hiking shoes for curling shoes is one of the joys she finds in the changing of the seasons.