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I was raised with a “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” kind of attitude. Smarts and a do-it-yourself approach were highest on the list of attributes, with hard work next in line. As a result, all five of us kids own, or have owned, our own businesses.

Mixed in to the attitude was something of a sneer toward those who wouldn’t, or couldn’t, make themselves financially viable. I know I am not alone in this; it is very much a cultural attitude. God helps those who help themselves, right? So help yourself and get over it!

And now two things have happened at exactly the same time: We come to a chapter called Accepting Abundance in A Course of Love, and a good friend refers her single-mama, low-income friend to us as a potential long-term renter for the cottage on our property. Because Ashley is well below the poverty line, she would be subsidized by the government for her rent payments.

Now I’ve briefly experienced life on the poor side. When my husband and I left our spiritual community where we lived incredibly simply, we had nothing. I remember looking for housing in Australia, where we were living, and being completely depressed. We had no jobs, no income, nowhere to live. We absolutely felt like failures. Eventually that turned around for us.

The first time I met Ashley, all my judgments came up. I mean, I liked her but I judged her as someone who didn’t try hard enough, who needed more of a “can-do” attitude. And fear came up too — fear of myself ever being in that place again.

Then I went to my Course of Love group and re-read Accept Abundance. Parts of it jumped out at me:

Think you not that the shame that comes from heartaches or mistaken actions is any greater than the shame those feel who feel no abundance, who suffer a lack of money. There is still a commonly held belief that abundance is a favor of God and, as such, those who do not experience abundance have done something wrong. D3.20

You must fully reject the untruths that you learned. You much fully reject the ideas that taught you that you do not have enough, that you will only have what you can earn or learn, that only through effort will you gain, and that with your gain will come another’s loss. D3.25

Right after my ACOL meeting, Ashley and I met a second time. This time I felt her shame and absolute vulnerability. She wanted this cottage desperately — it would be a very positive move for them — and my judgments were gone. I said, “Let’s move forward on this.”

RV.jpgThen the miracle happened. You know how modern RV’s have slide-outs? How they go from being one shape to expanding to add tons more space?  Well, my heart slid out. Suddenly it had a lot more room! I never knew it was possible or even necessary. So here I am now, walking around with a heart with slide-outs.

A Course of Love says twenty million times (I might be underestimating) that giving and receiving are one. A few days after meeting #2, Ashley brought her 13 year-old son, Nate, over to meet Joseph. The two hit it off like — well, like peas and carrots. They’ve hung out twice more since, and it’s been incredible. To have such a good kid, and a great friend for Joseph, living on the same property is going to be such a gift.

School starts next week. Yesterday, after a gathering of friends that included Nate, Joseph turned to me and said, “I might not have school friends, but I definitely have some really good friends.”

My mother’s heart did a happy dance, slide-outs and all. Joseph demonstrated an abundance of joy and true understanding that will stand him in good stead as he goes back to school.

A Course of Love says that abundance is not something we have to effort and struggle for. Bottom line, abundance is about active acceptance. Can we, here and now, actively accept that we are in relationship with God, with the all of all? In this relationship, why wouldn’t we be gifted with abundance, with friendship, with love?

Indeed. Why wouldn’t we?



Autism and Spirituality: the Dance