by Rev. Lisa Ahlness, Assistant to the Bishop
Abundance is found not in stuff, but in love and relationships and gratitude.
You see, we are moving – from the rural home in which we’ve lived for 21 years and raised three of our children – to another home, in Bismarck.
And I will understand if you all grin knowingly or laugh out loud at this news and my abundance learnings if you know me well enough to know what a sentimental “keeper of things” I am. Yes, there is such a thing as too much stuff! One always learns that when moving. Mostly, we pastors move more often than every 21 years – hence, get rid of the extra stuff – my family just happens to be an aberration in that department. So yes, it has become abundantly clear to me (little pun there) what an abundance of stuff we have accumulated! But that is not where the learning comes from.
Amid the packing and the sorting I found journals from my high school and college years that spoke of my internal life and my dreams and the people important to me. I found letters: encouraging notes from my parents and grandparents; cards from my great aunts, always with Bible verses they commended to me; letters from my friends and acquaintances from my college/grad school years in Europe; Christmas cards from loved ones near and far; cards from our wedding and when our children were born; notes from when my dad died; notes from what must have been a “send a nice note to your pastor for pastor appreciation month” push that I didn’t even remember but was so surprised and grateful to see again – so much kindness and wonderful stories! I re-read notes from day care workers sharing adventures with my kids; found pictures by the hundreds and the artwork of small children and report cards and happy mother’s day cards and valentines from hubby. I re-read notes from people I have cherished throughout my life.
I will admit, this slowed down the packing. As an aside, my good natured, learned-the-hard-way recommendation to 2-pastor families – or 1-pastor families for that matter – is: DO NOT MOVE DURING HOLY WEEK. Your mental health thanks you. And you are welcome for the free advice.
But back to my point, which is probably obvious by now: abundance is found not in stuff, but in love and relationships and gratitude. Thank you, God, for loving us so much. And thank you for the reminders of the abundance in my life.