Our diocese is trying to do something new with what we used to call stewardship.  We’re trying to focus on what we have to be grateful for — all of which comes, of course, from G0d.

I have to admit that I have a real tendency to notice what I do not have, particularly if I used to have it, and often do not pay nearly so much attention to what I do have.  Which is a lot.  And I find this to be true whether I’m looking at money or youth or health or things.  I know I have a lot (a whole lot compared to the rest of the world as a whole).  And I still often notice more what I do not have.  I suspect there are some other people like me out there.  I think our culture trains us this way.

God doesn’t promise us a glut of stuff in the bible.  God tells us he’s created a sufficiency, even an abundance, to meet our needs.  And I think God is telling the truth.  Meeting the millennial development goals is a real possibility today.  Ending the very worst of the killing poverty in the world today can be done.  There is enough to go around.  We actually know how to do it.  It’s really a question of will.

It’s a lot harder to do today, when so many of us, myself included, have less than we used to have.  But I find that I have enough, so far.  And I find myself depending more on God.  I know I could lose more.  (And I know I would probably still be ok.)  I know it’s beyond my direct control.  I know my life is in God’s hands.  And I know my life has been (and is being) richly blessed.

I have fairly good medical insurance.  I have a roof over my head.  I have food to eat.  I even have a bit of money in the bank.  More than that I have a family I love (and that I know loves me).  I have a job that I enjoy and find meaningful.  I have a goodly number of activities (reading, birding, watching basketball, writing, walking, listening to music …) that are a regular part of my life that I enjoy.  My cat is sleeping between my legs as I write this.  The glasses I’m wearing make it possible for me to read what I am writing.  My CREDO 2 week begins in Virginia Monday.  I have money and energy to give to God in caring for all of God’s people and all of God’s creation.  I have a contribution to make and that feels good and I am thankful for that.

But more than that, I am grateful for life.  I didn’t have to be.  God made me.  And God made a place for me to live.  And it’s a good place.  There are oceans and green trees and fresh air to breath.  And God made Audrey and Thea, my daughters.  Anne and I cooperated in the process.  But it’s God’s process.  I even know that I am loved by my creator.  Because when we were alienated from our creator, he came in the person of Jesus to restore our broken relationship.  God gives himself for me … for us.  God reaches out like a loving mother to bring her children safely home.  We don’t have to find God.  God comes to us.  And God gives us, well, everything we have:  everything we’ve ever had and everything we ever will.  Without God, it simply wouldn’t be.  Without God, I would not be.

It all depends on God and it all flows from God.  I’ve known that for a long time.  I’ve been thankful for a long time.  But I think I know it on a deeper level today and I think I am more deeply grateful today than perhaps I have ever been.

You may have noticed that I don’t have that bubbly, infectious way of expressing my joy and thankfulness that some Franciscans do.  But it is a deep and sincere joy.  And I think it puts me in a place to appreciate what my diocese is trying to do.

I am truly grateful for the blessings in my life.  I am truly grateful for all that I have and all that I am able to enjoy in my life.  I’m not sure I’m going to start a gratitude journal like some have.  But I do intend to focus more upon the blessings of my life.  I have a lot of reasons to be glad, and in fact they do make me glad, more glad, more often, than I sometimes notice.  And I want to notice.  Because when I know what I’m grateful and glad about, then I do find myself wanting to give of myself.  I want to give of my time and my talents and my money.  I want to give where I know it will help make these same kinds of blessing possible in other people’s lives.  I want to join God in reaching out in love and bringing this kind of blessing into the lives of others.

I was raised in a world that taught me there was never going to be enough, and I had to learn to grab my own and hold onto it.  It even has a myth that I can make this happen for myself without any kind of help at all.  I think this culture has done a lot to provide some of the material blessings in my life today (even though I believe it all comes from God’s abundance).  But I think it closes us in on ourselves and cuts us of from God and each other and all creation.  I think it has impoverished our lives in this way and made us less generous and open and giving.

And I find myself wanting to be giving.  It’s not that I don’t want more.  I’m afraid that will probably never end.  But I find myself appreciating what I do have more.  I am clearer that I already have what I truly need for a good life.  I find myself living with a new awareness and appreciation of God’s blessings in my life.  So on a fundamental level, I am grateful and glad, and not scared and wanting.  Receiving with abundance, I think I find myself wanting to give with abundance — at least more abundance than I ever have.  It feels good to give.  And I’m feeling good.

I’m not sure I’ve expressed it well.  Susan Vick might well take real issue with any number of things I’ve said.  But this is my way of processing what we’re trying to do as a diocese.  And it’s ironic that it’s working for me at a time of comparative scarcity and uncertainty in my life.  But that comparative scarcity is part of what’s making me more aware of God’s place in the center of my life and more aware (as my good life continues with less material stuff coming in) of where the goodness in my life really comes from and what it really consists of.  I believe it was the first Rockefeller to make his millions who was once asked, “How much money is enough?”  He replied, “A little more than I have.”  I think I’ve lived my life, at times, as though I believed that.  I hope to live a different life, gospel based, with gospel blessing.  I hope to live a fuller and happier life, grateful, glad and giving.

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