Abundance of Caution
“Out of an abundance of caution…” How many of you have read this phrase around 100 times by now? I know I have in emails and posts from businesses, non-profits, ticket vendors, states, cities, churches, and nearly every form of institution and establishment. As a minister, I love seeing the term abundance out there. Most of us clergy types spend a lot of our careers trying to get communities of faith and the world to think in terms of abundance rather than want or gaps, and now it has entered the common vernacular! The word abundance is everywhere…. It just is that the only sort of association with abundance right now is caution.
This caution is with cause. These physical distancing measures, like the measures we have taken at First Church to go online for meetings, worship, and community needs are good are right. Connecticut is doing a lot of great work to encourage this best practice of epidemiological public health. This abundance of caution can save lives and keep our communities intact through what is a fraught and dangerous time. The abundance of caution is absolutely needed and crucial.
As a language person serving an institution that practitioners of public health call a, “Social Determinant of Public Health (SDOH),” it makes wonder if we also need to find other abundances in these times to come out of this episode spiritually well as well as physically healthy.
At Emory, in addition to the Masters in Divinity through the Candler School of Theology, I received the Graduate Certificate in Human Rights run by the school of public health. This concept of communities of faith as Social Determinants of Public Health is that we, a church in this crisis, need to be a beacon of healing for our community and wellness beyond the moment. How can we be a sign of abundance and wholeness in a time of caution? The fundamental question is this: What else is in abundance right now other than and in addition to caution? —Certainly not meat, hand sanitizer, and toilette paper!
I would name that we are finding abundance in some of the following areas:
Compassion and a sense of human interconnectedness and interdependent around the planet. We are one world after all.
Patience by learning to stay home, to give our family members space, to forgive quickly living, schooling, working 24/7 in close quarters.
Quiet as we learn new ways to center and find God through email and silence.
Love of neighbors and how much some of us miss contact.
Recipes shared online by friends and tried at home. We have a new abundance of cooking and baking skills.
Awareness for the work of those in the service industry and their importance to our lives and community connection.
Appreciation for the little things: a springtime bird song or flower outside our windows.
Netflix and Disney Plus! I have learned there are an abundance of new shows.
What are your new abundances discovered in addition to caution?
We are called out of an abundance of caution to practice physical distancing for the wellness and health of our communities. Likewise, we are called as a Social Determinant of Public Health (SDOH) to help name other emerging abundances that can help us health as individuals and a society from the isolation, loneliness, and new fears this time will leave in its wake.
Yes, out of an abundance of caution concurrent with love, compassion, awareness, learning, and hope… we are writing to you today to let you know that we are in this together and so is God. As Christians, may our theological sense of abundance always start with hope.
James 1:17 “ Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Creator of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”