An abundance of stress, the stress of abundance

Happy Thanksgiving to you! (Most of my readers are from the US, and so I hope the rest of you non-US readers will also celebrate tomorrow with gratitude, even if it doesn’t mean family gatherings and eating too much turkey.)

I only have time for a short post today, and I’m guessing you may not have time to read a longer post anyway. Family is coming, and my to-do list doesn’t seem to be getting any shorter. I was running errands this morning trying to figure out how to avoid letting stress overwhelm me this holiday season.

That desire to get control over what feels like an over-abundance of holiday stress juxtaposed itself with the image of a woman and child waiting with some small suitcases in the vestibule of homeless shelter where I volunteer with a group of church friends once a month. When I was there on Monday, it was a white flag night, meaning the temperature was expected to drop below freezing, and shelters in the area would try to accommodate greater numbers of homeless for the night.

The air was full of scramble and buzz and extra activity as folks waited for word of where they could spend the night – there, at another shelter or out on the street. Residents of the shelter added to the hubbub as they sorted through bags and bags of donated coats that crowded the small lobby, grouping the coats by size to make them easier to distribute.

The scramble that night was entirely different, a more dire kind of scrambling than the sort you may be experiencing today: the scramble for the last trip to the grocery store, or the scramble to wrap up work early, or the scramble to pass everyone else on the highway so you can get to Grandma’s house first, or the scramble to figure out just how everything will fit into a refrigerator that suddenly feels two sizes too small.

Both types of scramble bring stress, but one represents a stress of abundance, a stress that comes from having the option to run to three different grocery stores for your Thanksgiving meal supplies and the option to go to the big box store for extra guest towels and the option to fight traffic to drive to visit relatives near or far.

For too many, though, those options of abundance simply do not exist, and their stressors may mean the difference between life and death on white flag nights. There’s no money for groceries or towels. There’s no car. There are no guests coming to visit because there is no home.

So might I encourage you to take a deep breath when stress threatens to overwhelm you in the coming days? I plan to use those moments as a way to offer up a quick prayer of gratitude for the abundance that is causing the stress. In addition to prayers of thanks, might you consider a donation of food or time or money to your own local shelter? It may be just what you need to put your own abundance of stress into perspective.

Before I close, let me say it again: Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m thankful for you stopping by for a visit today and would love to leave you with a couple of photos from the Orchid House at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, a visit earlier this year that still leaves me filling grateful for the beauty I found there.

ATLOrchids_2013 ATLOrchidsCloseup_2013

What are you most grateful for this holiday?

One thought on “An abundance of stress, the stress of abundance

  1. Pingback: Simple lessons from the nativity scene | The Flourishing Tree

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