There’s a lot of caution going around now. Everywhere, it seems. As a preface for almost any announcement, caution-abundance carries the same amount of linguistic freight as the well-worn phrase, “We take (fill in the blanks) very seriously.” Assured by plentiful prudence, readers/viewers know that whatever they see/hear will be well-infused with the presumably admirable trait of caution. Lots of it.
I’m normally a cautious person. For years, I took my classes of elementary school students on field trips, so I learned to be vigilant about dangers that might be invisible to most people. At this stage in life, I know what happens when carelessness colors decision-making. Wariness is one of my attitudinal defaults. I get caution.
As crown-mocking viruses circulate within the general civilization, I’m right up there with the rest of you: Taking heed of the warnings from legitimate medical authorities. The big picture—this disease spreading throughout the whole world—is worthy of my careful attention. My prayers are full of thoughtful observations about the COVID-19 pandemic— specifically its effects on people who are especially susceptible to disease.
It may be too early in the life story of this epidemic, but I’m thinking that there may be other abundances that would serve us well. Not surprisingly, many of those thoughts come from what I believe to be Jesus’ example and teaching. From Paul’s exhortations to the early Christians. From the poets and prophets of the Old Testament.
It seems prudent in these times for me to think about and practice other abundances alongside caution. An abundance of love—I can revisit the epistles of John. An abundance of wisdom—The books of Proverbs or Ecclesiastes are insistent and direct. An abundance of caring—I can start with Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. An abundance of moral strength—The Scriptures are filled to the brim with instruction in that direction.
When fear circulates inside my conversations, I want to be able to speak out of overflowing calm, perspective and empathy. The precious resource of prayer will reshape my mindset away from gloom. An abundance of supportive friendships will help me cope with the effects of social distancing.
Truth and trust seem to be in short supply at the top of our nation’s political leadership. That’s why I cherish the many places where both truth and trust are still strong, still plentiful, still available. Where they are still sharing their rich attributes in my daily life.
What helps me live out of an abundance of hope is the reality that untold thousands of people are motivated by the spiritual wealth at the core of their identities. There are other, post-caution parts of this society that will also spread into headlines and relationships: Neighborliness, generosity, courage and helpfulness. Loyalty and duty; understanding and respect; expertise and perseverance. All these traits—these sturdy characteristic of the human spirit at its best—remain abundant all around me. They’re not hard to spot in the lives of people I know and love.
I am certain that all these evidences of God’s providence will balance any abundance of caution, so that I am not tempted to live in despair, distrust or disgust.
Yes, I take abundance very seriously….
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