It has been a week of abundance. This week I was one of the prayer guides during the university chaplaincy's week of guided prayer, where a large group of incredibly busy young adults carved out some extra daily time for God - and, as always, God responded with abundant generosity. We shouldn't be surprised by this, though we often are: we can so easily forget that we have a God who takes our few loaves and fishes (sometimes grudgingly offered) and transforms them into a lavish banquet!
At the opening meeting last Sunday we prayed with part of Psalm 144, and I was instantly struck by the words: The Lord is... abounding in love, and in particular that word abounding. I sat quietly playing with the word, as images and associations rose to the surface. Bounding... leaping, jumping for joy, twelve lords a-leaping... but also bounding, being bound... Adam lay ybounden, bounden in a bond... and the idea of a-bounding love as unbounded, unfettered.
(As an aside, we joke about Dick Barton, and how with one bound he was free! - little realising the interesting wordplay contained in those six words!)
I rolled the word around, tasting and savouring it in my other languages, beginning with Italian. Abbondante, abbondanza... and then on to French - abondance. I immediately saw the goodness - bon - at the centre of this word, and then, to my surprised delight - a dance, danza! With one bound (!) I was back with the God who jumps with joy over us, this time in a dance, as he lavishes unbounded love on us.
Back home I looked the word up. Its origins lie in the Latin word abundare, to overflow, coming from unda, which means a wave. And really, what is an overflow, but something that cannot be contained, something unbounded, something which leaps and splashes and pours forth in abundance?
These have been insights to savour and chew over throughout the week. And today, as I look out of the window, at yet another rain-soaked day, and notice the leaves filling our gutters, which will cause them to overflow when the rain gets heavy, I realise that the abundant, unbounded, uncontained love of God pours out, overflowing, from his Heart precisely because it too is full - not with blockages but with love, too much love for it to contain. What a joyful thought to lift my heart on a wet and gloomy November day!