Faces on Faith: Sharing our abundance
Thanksgiving is fast approaching and I marvel at the wide variety of cornucopia images that are appearing in markets and newspaper ads. I remember teachers putting up large cardboard images of cornucopias as far back as kindergarten – and how many cornucopias have you seen as table centerpieces in your life? The symbol of the cornucopia even gets used outside of Thanksgiving. There are companies who have training programs called “cornucopia for life.” There’s a farm in New Hampshire named Cornucopia Farm – enticing potential buyers with the promise of abundant fruits and vegetables. There’s even a town in Wisconsin named Cornucopia! All of these uses and more using a word derived from the Latin “cornu copiae,” meaning “horn of plenty.”
“Horn of plenty” – cornucopia – the familiar woven basket overflowing with edible, healthy delights, sometimes with a sprig of flowers – all signifying abundance! (I remember as a kid wondering why the horn of plenty could not be overflowing with candy and chocolate chip cookies.)
There are many spiritual images related to abundance and the theme of the cornucopia, reminding us of that abundance of God’s grace – available to all God’s people. Of course, grace is not a tangible item as are the fruits and vegetables flowing from the horn of plenty. We realize it requires a spiritual mindset that is creatively aware, open, searching – always thirsting and seeking to see where that abundance -that grace – is in our lives, right now. Abundance where we too often focus on scarcity. Perhaps we can also visualize the spiritual cornucopia as more than an abundance of blessings and view it as ongoing nourishment for our souls – our only real nourishment in life – nourishment that sustains our very beings.
As we enter the month of November and prepare to gather at the table for Thanksgiving, offering thanks for our blessings and the abundance of God’s grace and love, let us remember to reach out in our abundance to those who do live in atmospheres of scarcity. Yes, scarcity of food and shelter, which so many people on the islands are aware of and do so much to help – but what about that scarcity of heart and soul? How many people live with loneliness, sadness, despair, worry, and fear? How many people need us – in our abundance – to reach out to them with a call, a card, a hand to hold, or even some forgiveness? That’s the real essence of sharing God’s grace – making sure the people around us know that it’s available to them – that God’s grace envelopes them in love through each of us. Through us, that’s the only way the cornucopia comes to life and becomes more than a cardboard holiday image.
The Rev. Dr. Ellen M. Sloan is the rector at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church.