Let’s Start with an Empty Bowl….

Efficient Abundance became my brain child as I spent three months of the past year in almost complete silence.

I lost my voice suddenly and painfully in the middle of my first major voiceover job, and a few days before the kick-off to my most lucrative singing season.  Besides being scary and expensive, my illness was isolating and unsettling.  Who was I without my voice? How could I ever earn money again? How could God have done this to me? What would become of my plans, my ambitions, my God-given purpose in life if I could no longer use my most obvious talent, and use it in the most obvious way?

From within the silence, I started discovering the answers to those questions, and the journey took me through the most difficult and wonderful season of my adult life.  I’m still searching for the answers, and many days, forget so much of what I learned during those months spent so intimately with God, as He was the only one who could hear me.

What I began to discover was Abundance- the life-shattering, mind-blowing realization that no matter what happens to you, no matter what obstacles and hardships and failures you experience, you have within yourself and your surroundings exactly enough to do and have everything you will ever need.

My lifelong obsession with Being Efficient was cast in a different light, as well.  What if efficiency didn’t mean constantly doing more and more, faster and faster? What if striving for efficiency meant being content with less? Sharing our excess? Eliminating waste in our thoughts, words, opportunities, and habits?

And what if God would help us, every step of the way? I began to seek solace and wisdom anywhere I could, and found it in the most obvious place- throughout the pages of the Bible, and then within writings from philosophies and religions throughout the ages.

And I began to see the efficiency and abundance in nature.  Everywhere.

Ignoring the most powerful force in the universe- the Creator, and all of Creation – is the greatest waste of all.  The ultimate inefficiency.  The definition of scarcity.

The wisdom and truth of how to enjoy Efficient Abundance is in God.  It’s in His word.  And it’s in us.  It’s in you.

So let’s do it together- let’s find a way to remind ourselves and our world of the abundance around us, and share what we have with one another, creating a growing web that will rediscover the fullness God wants us to enjoy.

This web began hours after the first class of Efficient Abundance this past week, when one young mother from our group sent me a single email- the first of hopefully many that will add to our growing network of knowledge, recognition, and ultimately action:

Stone Soup

Imagine a world in which we all shared our gifts and bounty with each other rather than focusing on self preservation.

There are many variations on the story of stone soup, but they all involve a traveler coming into a town beset by famine. The inhabitants try to discourage the traveler from staying, fearing he wants them to give him food. They tell him in no uncertain terms that there’s no food anywhere to be found. The traveler explains that he doesn’t need any food and that, in fact, he was planning to make a soup to share with all of them. The villagers watch suspiciously as he builds a fire and fills a cauldron with water. With great ceremony, he pulls a stone from a bag, dropping the stone into the pot of water. He sniffs the brew extravagantly and exclaims how delicious stone soup is. As the villagers begin to show interest, he mentions how good the soup would be with just a little cabbage in it. A villager brings out a cabbage to share. This episode repeats itself until the soup has cabbage, carrots, onions, and beets擁ndeed, a substantial soup that feeds everyone in the village.
This story addresses the human tendency to hoard in times of deprivation. When resources are scarce, we pull back and put all of our energy into self-preservation. We isolate ourselves and shut out others. As the story of stone soup reveals, in doing so, we often deprive ourselves and everyone else of a feast. This metaphor plays out beyond the realm of food. We hoard ideas, love, and energy, thinking we will be richer if we keep to them to ourselves, when in truth we make the world, and ourselves, poorer whenever we greedily stockpile our reserves. The traveler was able to see that the villagers were holding back, and he had the genius to draw them out and inspire them to give, thus creating a spread that none of them could have created alone.

This week, write in with suggestions on what you can bring to the “bowl.”  What resources have you noticed that can be shared? They can be talents, opportunities, possessions, thoughts, experiences…anything. 

Are you like one of the villagers, holding back? If you come forward and share your gifts, you will inspire others to do the same. The reward is a banquet that can nourish many.

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