“May we be sufficient in all things, may we have abundance enough to share with others.”
As far as personal prayers of petition go, this is something that I regularly repeat, but there doesn’t tend to be much else because this covers all the practical stuff for me. I tend (at the moment at least) to simply address prayers to the universe. Does anything out there listen, care and respond? I can’t tell, but for me that’s not really the point. Most of my prayer practice is about being open and listening, on the off-chance anything does flow towards me. This small prayer is my way of wrapping up all the practical things so that I can let them go.
It has other consequences, too. Divinely inspired or not, I can’t say, but the process of using this prayer regularly certainly changes things for me. Firstly it focuses me on the idea of sufficiency. “Enough” is a magic word. Recognising the ways in which I am sufficient helps me. We live in a culture that promotes the idea of scarcity, and that we have to be afraid and grasping because everything is scarce. By focusing on the ways in which I have enough, I am able to see through some of the narratives of scarcity and get better balance in my life. In seeing through the scarcity myths I become better able to recognise where I have abundance and how I might share it to good effect.
Thinking about when and where I have enough helps me recognise where I don’t, and where that needs to change. Enough rest, enough inspiration, enough gentle happy time – these have been the areas of lack. These are not scarcities driven by poverty, but by responding to fears of scarcity. I have, slowly, learned that I do not have to be working all the time to feel safe. I don’t have to earn more all the time in case there’s a disaster ahead. I just need enough. Do I have enough for the things I need? Then I have enough. I don’t need much, and much of what I need is not for sale anyway. The more I understand this, the more able I am to have a life that I find good.
Where is the abundance? In a household with two adults working full time yet collectively earning less than the average wage for one person, how can I talk about abundance? Answer: because we have things set up such that we can live well on what we have. I’ve lived in arrangements where a good deal more money came in each month, but where very little was good or happy. As I don’t want a lot of things, and I don’t need my things to be new, or fashionable, I’m not expensive to keep. I like upcycling, re-purposing, I like using the things other people would throw away. There is abundance available in this. I can say yes to things n one else wants and experience them as richness.
At the moment my flat is full of fabric and wool that no one else wants, and I’m in the process of turning it into things that I can gift to people. Here is abundance! I can create something cheering and useful from something no one else wanted in its old form. I can use my free time making things – which I delight in, and which rests my over-busy brain and gives me time to think gently about stories. I can keep things out of landfill. I feel blessed with riches when I’m doing this.
“Enough” is fairly simple, abundance is not as hard to find as it might seem. So why does our culture encourage us to seek excess and guard it jealously? Why are we encouraged to use up our precious time – time we really want for resting, sleeping, playing, being with friends and family, getting exercise and eating well – why are we encouraged to sacrifice all of those things so that we can afford new cars, gym memberships and pre-packaged food? And why are we encouraged to feel good about all the excess we might own, when around us others go hungry, can’t heat their homes, or end up on the streets. Recognise enough, and see what you can share, because we all deserve better than these toxic normalities.
For more of my thinking on prayer, check out When a Pagan Prays.