An angel of a’plenty got me to my first Abundance event. She came to me from the other side at a time when I needed a nudge to get out of bed. I’d been in bed metaphorically for a few years, from the profundity of my discouragement in human behavior. I felt the holes rather than the levity of having let go of relationships and activities where my efforts had not changed the trajectory of their effects on the planet. Believing this was personal, I reeled my offerings back in, put them under the covers, and turned off the light. One night, my Grandmother Sarah came into the foreground of my dreams, and once again gripped the edge of our dinner table between creased palm and fused arthritic fingers, asserting to the offer of more food, “I have a’plenty.”
My grandmother learned how to quantify adequacy from raising six children in eastern NC on a subsistence farm during the first Great Depression, with a husband frequently partnered to moonshine. She created enough out of almost nothing, sending those children off to college and into successful lives from having born witness to how many needs could be resolved in the force field of love. By kindling my memory of her frequent ‘I have a’plenty’ incantations at the table where we received our nourishment, she made visible that knowing what she needed was a generosity that made my very existence possible. She offered her words for my use as an invocation, to bring forth a future out of trust in my enough-ness. And so, when Abundance Foundation events came across my email with teaching about a’plenty as their mission, a plethora of goosebumps spread over my skin, and I knew my angel of abundance was messaging me. I signed up, crossed over the Chatham County line, and welcomed the tingle and warmth that accompanies the rise to the surface.
Their events stirred up the currents that ran between my head and heart, giving me a place to discuss issues I’d pondered-like the diminishment on the fullness of our living by having not faced death, and those of my concern-like the effects of climate change on food systems. I appreciated a community brave enough to have these conversations, and the containers-like Pecha Kucha, World Cafe and Death Faire-provided at these events to help us hold and process weighty thoughts. I associate them now with a time when I gained some understanding of what I’d been making space for with all the clearing out I’d done, when I was once again able to place myself inside the ‘trouble’ as a helper without the immediate temptation to crawl back in bed. Our times are calling for us to do just that–show up and stay present with the full terror and beauty of all that is falling apart and rising in its place. Abundance events held space for me while I felt my way in to what was worthy of bringing forward into my next life stage, as they are doing for the broader community facing a global transition in how we live on this planet.
They are holding space for the great becoming, one person at a time.
With an angel of a’plenty on my shoulder and Abundance in my back pocket, I then answered a 30-year call to live by the South Toe River and Black Mountain range. In these last two years, I have used the lens of Abundance to read the story of this geographically beautiful but financially challenged place. Because of Yancey County’s formidable topography, it has never been much of a candidate for capitalistic ventures, and some of what did come has been taken back with little hope of replacement. With the new losses I’ve personally witnessed–the closure of labor and delivery at our local hospital and schools that had been community gathering sites–I see anger and frustration mount, fear intensify, and the story of scarcity deepen. Having been in descent longer than the county I moved away from, this community is no longer waiting for an outside rescue and is collaborating intensely on how to stretch what we have as far as possible. While this is necessary to stem the pain and damage of descent, collaboration is also as an expression of faith in the wealth of working together and leveraging resources, and it is a strong step in to building a shared belief that abundance is real and can be counted on to give us what we truly need.
My Abundance glasses are helping me see how I might elevate the significance of what is already happening here, so that clarity of intent can accompany what comes of our partnering. For these collaborations to result in physical manifestations, abundance must be used both as the narrative for decision-making and as the energy we lean into. Though many here are aware of ways in which we are rich, few are in the habit of placing our sources of a’plenty on the problem-solving table as a strategy for ameliorating concerns. I am using a narrative of abundance to address the troubles of our children’s health and a fragile food system, and connect our local farmers with child care centers. I’m leveraging its energy to confront the problem of exorbitant funeral home fees and their earth-injurious practices, and provide death midwifery to those who want to remain at home after their last breath. These offerings are welcomed because they build on an existing understanding that we are physically rich in river bottom land for growing food, and spiritually wealthy in the mountain ethic of ‘taking care of our own’, including our dead. There is also power in the ability of these offerings to take our human needs out of the politics of tribe and into the common life of a people and their landscape. They democratize abundance, in other words, which is critically important when the conversations of how we provide social care to those in need are highly charged and polarizing.
There is also the need if abundance is to manifest, to name its forms out loud and frequently, so that we make of it a mantra and know with specificity what to insert into our dreams and prayers. In the South Toe valley, we can begin the litany of a’plenty with the power and beauty of our landscape. It shows me what to ask of Spirit-gift me with the power of mountains that make my jaw drop and vision rise, so I can tear down what is killing us and support the ascendance of what is life-giving; send me the clarity of a clean cold river, so that I can see what to give my energy to and what to let flow on to others. Thank you Spirit, for this feeling of satiation every time I step outside, and may that fuel my willingness to interrupt ruinous human behavior.
These petitions answered, after all, make possible the abundance that feeds everything else we do.
As the old structures give way, we are becoming nouveau riche in the energy being released and freed. I am watching people take it up, leverage it to create new forms, and attract others in the joy of their offering. Examples abound. In the absence of recovery programs, practitioners of alternative medicine are offering their services to those who’ve abused opioids to numb their pain. Citizens are considering how to take back our hospital from the for-profit system that will likely close it, and there is talk of converting our abandoned school buildings into community centers with edible gardens and services for families.
To ensure our energy is sustained as descent intensifies, generators of critical transition skills, behaviors, and resources are forming. A community art space thrive-hive provides supplies and space for people to ‘encounter, encourage, and express their creativity’, and build our muscles for thinking out of the boxes of trouble we are in. A local lending program is investing in entrepreneurs who want to provide goods and services locally. Voice venues are proliferating to give warm and lofty air to the songs and stories that can weave our transition. Herbalists, wildcrafters, and permaculturists are skilling us in how to live reciprocally with our land.
Find your Abundance glasses and put them on. If you need a pair, an angel of a’plenty at an Abundance event can assist. Then look around. You will see, that descent is only the falling apart of what is not serving our planet’s majesty, and you will want to bring it on. You will see the forms rising that could receive our species on the other side, and you will want to play matchmaker-pointing people towards each other when the same energy is swirling around them. You will want to hold space–gathering people to plan the particulars of how to help an offering into being. And when your joy gets activated by another’s offering or the direct inspiration of Spirit to your very self, you will want to jump in and splash the water everywhere. There will be no more talk of one side ‘winning’. It will not matter to you if it ‘works’. You will feel as I do, the arc of heartening energy moving amongst and between the people of Abundance, and it will be enough just to be in what is unfolding. In your bones you will find once again, the hope we’ve been tending for so very long. It will be a’plenty.
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