You probably noticed that I didn’t write last week, at least I hope you did! My brother got married in Cleveland and the week leading up was a house of sick kids. As the week got closer to us traveling to Cleveland, I consciously decided I’d skip the blog. Yes, I had notes on my topic, but I didn’t want to focus on that. I wanted to be fully present to my family and brother. I wanted to be mentally all there with them. I thought about writing you all a little note saying I’d be back next week, but I knew you’d understand.
Earlier that week I made another choice too that was not about me, but was about presence. I had been invited to speak at an event in Toronto the week after the wedding. The topic was making medical decisions amidst uncertainty. Though I’ve never written about that here, it’s a topic I have a lot to say about. One that is a passion of mine based on my life experience with my son Ethan. I had been doing research and my talk was nearly done, and then my kids got sick. About a week before the talk it dawned on me that I needed to bow out. I wanted to go so badly. But I knew it would be too much for my kids to trek to Toronto possibly sick after a full weekend. So I kindly said I wasn’t able to be there. It was a hard decision and the right one.
It was a decision for presence, for those I love most. The wedding weekend was so beautiful. Here’s some pics so you can take a peek.
I told you I’d share about abundance. About what it means to live in abundance. A couple of you even asked me to write about it. I will be so honest with you all that many days my life feels like a struggle, and I long for an easier path. I don’t always feel abundance, but my life is so abundant. So gifted. So full, even in the lean, difficult spaces. I always want to be honest in my sharing.
Like so many other words and ideas in our culture, we associate abundance with fluffiness, with the idea of having more than enough, of fullness.
The dictionary defines it as this: an extremely plentiful or over sufficient quantity or supply
In sarcasm I’d say I have an overabundance of challenge. In weak moments I’d look around at others whose lives look so much more abundant than mine, easier, doing more of what they want vs. have to. I think we all feel this way from time to time.
A couple weeks ago we were in Door County Wisconsin for the weekend. We head up there each fall and saying it’s gorgeous there this time of year is a understatement. I wrote about Door County recently here. It’s a super special place to us.
We walked into one of Erik’s favorite spots for lunch, it was crowded. Hardly room for Bodey’s stroller. It was loud. I was annoyed. Bodey fussed, he was not interested in being there. Taking him places is not always easy. We were just trying to be “normal” and go to lunch. Whatever normal is. I ended up leaving with Bodey so that Erik, Blake and Chase could eat. I walked all through Fish Creek, down by the water. Passed the marina were Erik’s parents kept their sailboat, passed the dock Ethan used to run up and down. I was singing to Bodey to keep him soothed. All I wanted to do was to be at that restaurant doing things normal families do, eat lunch on the weekend. Normal things feel hard for us many days.
As I walked I took in the beauty around me. Gosh it was gorgeous. I passed this little church I’ve always loved. I observed the new homes and shops that had been built since I’d been there last.
I want to stop here and say that this is one of the gifts given to us when we embrace a life that is not what we planned. I am quite sure that each of you reading this has some part of your life that you wish was different. Some of you never could have imagined what you’ve endured. In this space is the invitation that is whispered to each of us, the challenge that life gives us. “Can you see the beauty here? Can you find an oversupply of love, hope, grit, and grace even here in the depths?” If you can’t quite yet, that is so okay. Perhaps start to open your eyes and heart to this idea.
So, there I was with a fussy kid, walking in beauty, apart from my family. And the thought came to me, “this is abundance”. Gosh, really? Yes, abundance. Fullness. An oversupply of love, of beauty, of reflection, of awareness about things most people don’t want to see - like disability, families that struggle with simple things like going to lunch when your child is in a wheelchair, missing Ethan, surrounded by nature and physical beauty.
And right smack in there is abundance.
Not the way I want it to look, the way I expected it to look, or the way the world defines it. I supposed that most might think of an abundant life as one of relative ease, full of resources, and doing what you love, to name a few. Several years ago, that is how I’d probably have defined it to. An oversupply of what I want. Yep, sounds good to me.
But as I’ve learned and articulated before, the sweet spots are the middle spaces. The in betweens. Hidden there are the gems, the fullness, the awareness. Where we can touch, and taste and feel the rawness of life, the stuff that’s hard and beautiful, where life actually happens for so many human beings. And there is abundance.
So on that day abundance was walking in the middle of the frustration of disability and beautiful nature. The weekend of my brother’s wedding it was saying no to things that would distract, add anxiety or worry so I could be fully present to the significance of the weekend. It was in the missing of Ethan and dancing the night away. It was in the frustration of traveling with all of Bodey’s stuff and seeing him all dressed up for the wedding.
It’s an oversupply of the good stuff of life, not of the pretty stuff or the easy stuff. Yes, we should still desire, want and work for the pretty and easy. I know I do. But it’s being able to see fullnes and beauty where so many others miss it.
In being with people we love.
In illness and imperfection.
In giving up our desires to be present to others.
In just being present.
In the middle space of whatever you have going on right now. Right in there, you’ll find abundance. You just have to keep your mind and your heart open. I’m going to too. Easy, no. Fulfilling, yes.
Let’s look for abundance. When you find it, write me. I want to know what you find.
Sunday Love to you.
PS I know I said I’d write about staying connected to Ethan. That will be next week’s topic:-)