I didn’t lose it all with Bernie Madoff, but, like many others, I watched my material wealth shrink this past year. Am I worthless because I’m worth less? Of course not. I’m worthwhile, no matter what I’m worth financially. Having less money doesn’t have to mean having less joy or less abundance. I didn’t lose my job – since I am self-employed, I know I won’t be laid off – but work has slowed down, giving me time to appreciate the many ways abundance pops up in my life.
An abundance of things is not fulfilling or satisfying. Having many things can be a burden. It takes time to care for them, leaving less time to enjoy them. Things can be lost, stolen, or broken, giving rise to anxiety about loss. To find abundance, give something away. Trust that the empty hand will be filled.
Abundance is nurtured by sharing. Abundance is not wasteful. Keeping it all for myself is not abundant. Abundance is not proud. Abundance is open and flowing. Abundance loosens my grip on life and reminds me that every breath is a give-away dance. I am surrounded by abundance. Abundance is free. Abundance is a gift. Where is your life abundant?
My goats give me an abundance of milk. So much milk, I have to make cheese every other day. Abundance is hard work. Abundance is usually the result of effort.
My friend fed a stray cat. Now my friend has an abundance of cats to feed. Abundance can appear unexpectedly. Feed abundance and it will multiply.
My peach tree ripened an abundance of fruit last year. One branch, loaded with a hundred pounds of peaches, broke – even though we propped it up in an effort to prevent breakage. Abundance pushes boundaries, it breaks through the levees, it is not orderly or tame. Abundance is demanding.
There are an abundance of weeds in my garden. If I let them grow, my tomatoes would suffer. I must remove one abundance in order to cultivate another. Abundance requires attention. One abundance may prevent another abundance.
I don’t really weed my garden, though; I harvest the weeds for food and medicine.
Some weeds – such as purslane, garlic mustard, catnip, chickweed, wild oregano, oxalis, and chives – are delicious in salads. Others – such as lamb’s quarter, amaranth, dandelion, chicory, and sorrel – are better cooked.
And many are superb medicines. Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) is a prolific weed that I harvest and tincture when in flower. A dose of 5-25 drops can be used to ease and eliminate menstrual cramps, relieve even extreme anxiety, lower blood pressure, strengthen the heart, counter blood vessel inflammation, and moderate menopausal flashes.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a generous and abundant plant who offers her roots, leaves, stalks, and flowers as food and medicine. Dandelion wine, cooked dandelion greens with fresh garlic and olive oil, and dandelion root tincture and vinegar are a few of our favorite ways of using this weed. A few drops of the root tincture just before a meal aids digestion and prevents heartburn.
Yellow dock (Rumex crispus) also offers an abundance of food and medicine. We add her leaves to salads, make a vinegar of her red seeds, and dig the root early in the spring or late in the fall to tincture. A dose of a dropperful of the tincture (or a teaspoon of a vinegar) of the roots, taken two or three times a day, is one of the best ways to increase the amount of iron in the blood. Yellow dock tincture is considered to be the very best agent for helping those who need an aid to maintain regularity. Since it is not a laxative, it’s safe to use daily, if you wish.
Garlic mustard (Alliaria officinalis) is the essence of abundance. It covers roadsides as well as blanketing the garden. This biennial plant gives her roots for horseradishy condiments – just blend the spring-dug roots with vinegar – and her leaves for salads and cooked greens. Being in the cabbage family, garlic mustard is part of an important and established means to prevent cancer. (Four servings of cabbage family plants a week reduces overall cancer risk by fifty percent.)
Some weeds – such as grasses, wild geraniums, ragweed, clear weed, smartweed, knotweed, and beggar ticks – are too tough or too bitter for me to eat. I feed them to the rabbits, whose droppings enrich the garden soil and nurture the weeds.
Using my weeds gives me abundance in abundant ways. I save about $500 a year by eating my weeds instead of buying greens and vegetables. I save more than $2000 a year by eating my weeds instead of buying vitamin and mineral supplements. And I can’t even guess at how much I save by using weeds as my primary health care. My entire health care expense is about $100 a year. That buys me all the vodka, vinegar, oil, and honey I need to make the tinctures, vinegars, ointments, and honeys I use to maintain and regain health.
Harvesting and drying the herbs I use for teas and infusions not only saves me money on health care, it saves me money on entertainment. Instead of going to a movie or the mall, my family spends time together picking anti-cancer red clover, hanging memory-boosting comfrey to dry, harvesting St. Joan’s wort for muscle-easing oil and anti-viral tincture, gathering wild grapes and elderberries for heart-healthy wines, and preserving the abundance around us for winter.
Material, physical things are finite and limited. Feelings and thoughts and weeds are not. I may have less money and less ability to buy things, but there’s no price on joy. Smiling creates brain chemicals that make us happy. Cultivate an inner smile. Look for the silver lining. An abundance of love is always available, if we avail ourselves of it. Accept and make use of the earth‘s green blessings.
Abundance is free.
Abundance is a gift.
Abundance is open and flowing.
Abundance can appear unexpectedly.
Feed abundance and it will multiply.
Abundance is demanding.
Abundance is wild.
Abundance is hard work.
Abundance is not proud.
By Susun Weed
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