In last week’s post I pondered flooding around the world. Then, on Thursday, I joined my friend Kelsea Habecker’s online women’s writing and reflection circle for the first time (you can learn more about it here) and the theme was abundance. Here in Southern Arizona, we were bracing for a full weekend of rain with the forecast for over an inch in total (when the average for the entire month is just two inches). You might say that rain was on my mind.

So, when Kelsea first invited us to ponder abundance, images that arose in me ranged from the rumble of thunder and flashes of lightning waking me in the middle of the night to the beautiful smell of wet desert after the rain. I remembered placing a watering can under the drain spout and watching it fill in moments, then overflow and splash on my feet. I thought of how saguaros and other cacti swell with the lavish quantity of water. I recalled my awe as the storm’s power brings down tree branches and creates new arroyos in neighborhood landscaping. There’s an abundance of gorgeous colors in the sunsets when there are clouds to reflect that brilliant light. I recall morning rainbows, and virga hanging in the sky, promising an abundance of rain nearby.

Such copious rainfall, especially if localized, can lead to an abundance of flooding, proving that even something as positive sounding as “abundance” is still filled with complexity. In fact, we got more than half our total average rainfall for the year over the weekend. The Marana airport reported 6.6 inches of rain by midafternoon yesterday alone (Sunday, July 25). When Henry and I drove home from church, we stopped a few times to capture images of lakes such as the one above in our area’s rainwater retention basins (which double as parks for most of the year). I’ve never seen them that full (up to three feet deep in some places)!

Kelsea gave us other valuable questions for reflection. One that stood out for me was, “What messages do I carry that tell me I shouldn’t experience abundance?” In response, I realized that these days, a lot of it is tied up for me in the antiracism work. As I’ve learned more, I’ve realized how the multi-generational wealth and power I have received as a white person was gained at the expense of powerless others. That powerlessness continues today; I recently learned that the median earnings for black men in 2019 were only 56 cents for every dollar earned by white men—and that’s down three cents since 1970!

There’s further complexity here because, as a woman, I also have experienced a lack of abundance in comparison with those white men. There’s much more to this than economic opportunities, such as assumptions about roles, capacity, and capability. This means I experience both abundance and scarcity from my place in our culture. Then, on the flip side, there’s the abundance of catcalls and threatening words that so many women receive from so many men—not exactly an abundance I crave!

So yes, abundance is filled with complexity. As I marvel at the rain, which we sorely need in this drought-stricken area, I ponder also its ability to do damage when it comes in profusion. Copious amounts of rain are both a blessing and a challenge, proving the complexity of a life well-pondered and fully lived.

What comes to mind for you when you ponder abundance and complexity?

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