Abundance at the End of All Voids

When I was younger I came from a place of want. It’s a cliche’, isn’t it? We either come from the place of want or the place of abundance. But it’s also real. I grew up seeing only what was missing, what might happen that was bad, and with the conviction that destruction was always right around the corner if one were not ever vigilant against slipping into the abyss.

Everything I owned was a commodity—to be sold in time of need. I gave nothing away, even if I didn’t need it and someone else did—I only sold. I had to pay my way; I expected others to pay theirs. I was merciless with loans—pay what you owe me. I guarded everything in my care. I never passed up an opportunity to profit. And when I had more than my friends, I didn’t spread it around—generosity was a luxury I believed I couldn’t afford.

What that cost was relationships. “I’m careful,” said one friend. “I feel like everything you own is made of glass.” Another friend admired a chair I didn’t want. I offered to sell it to him. Gently, he said, “most of my friends give things away when they don’t need them.” Things had changed, but my mind dwelt in another time. I still remembered when I didn’t have a dollar for bread or being struck for leaving a ring on a table or breaking a glass. Even cheap things were more precious than flesh. And now, I had more than just a lot of assets and stuff — I had an endless well of ways to produce more. I had the power of my mind and the incredible gifts of my soul. I had abundance but lived in want.

I can’t imagine that now, except by the power of memory, reminding me that it was reality—that that life in fact used to be my life. I would like to say that these days I give freely. I will instead say that I give a lot more than ever before. I go out of my way to do so. I cling to very little, in the way of things. Someone said, “My grandson jumps on my sofa. It might break the sofa. But I can always get a new one. Can’t get a new grandson.” Indeed.

I still have pangs of the siege mentality. I police the closing of the gate, the locking of the doors, the securing of keys, and I usually have some object of defense within reach. Habits die hard. Robberies and attacks are seldom forgotten—they leave scars. And other people’s fears are like hot grease—they carve runnels in the eyes. I grew up alternately ensconced in a cul de sac or seeing my elders holding their own with a knife, a gun, or a fireplace poker. I’m not ashamed of it. That’s who they were. I am who I am.

That I have managed to obtain a measure of freedom in my life—so much so that I can think without any cause but affection of what gifts, helps, and services might make another person happy—and that I have the prosperity to deploy them—is a kind of redemption. It bleeds into my business, so that I am motivated to bring my clients what success I can. I make their problems my problems—their hurdles my targets for demolition.

“What do you do for a living?” someone asks. I wear a lot of hats, play a lot of roles, operate under a lot of forms, but a short answer is “I solve ill-defined problems.” In fact, that mode is part of the reason I can draw from the endless font of abundance. My livelihood is a reflection of the life I’ve chosen, and that life is the aspiration for there to be more, and for relationships to be central. I would go back to that kid, if I could—the one I used to be—and I would tell him. I would be the only one who could. But since I can’t, I’ve instead brought him forward with me, to live in this bounty of good things now.

As we of my Faith say in our daily prayers, “Thou Treasury of Blessings and Giver of Life, come and abide in us, and cleanse us from ever stain, and save our souls, O Good One.” I have introduced the boy to the treasury of blessings.

I don’t wish he had never gone through his younger life. I wish only that he could go back to the people who knew him then, and say what I’ve said here. That, to quote Thomas Merton, “love is the belief in the reversibility of evil.” It is the fundamental Christian conviction that God became man so that man can change, to become more godlike. In short, that man can change. Atheists deny it. The world doubts it. But I live it.

Abundance can wipe out want. Plenty can fill the place of lack. Fullness can redeem emptiness so that no one need be empty. And emptied of treasure, abiding in the void, which costs us even what we have, most especially the opportunity to share in love with others, we will yet unlock an endless bounty. We will hunger always, we will fast sometimes, but even at the end of the farthest abyss we will find the garden and eat the fruit of joy, if with Auden, we give ourselves to this reality: “The garden is the only place there is, but you will not find it until you have looked for it everywhere and found nowhere that is not a desert.”

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Daniel DiGriz

Daniel DiGriz is a digital ecologist® who tells brand stories. This profile is not yet rated. Parental discretion. Views do not reflect, etc.