The flowers at the table overlooking the gardens of the comfortable home were wonderful. As the dinner we'd been invited to proceeded, our host told us about his teen years - years of extreme poverty. Because of unfair political persecution, his family had lost all their possessions and money. Destitute, he and his mother had to live in a hut. Furniture was made of boxes; utensils were at a bare minimum. Food at meals was one dish (sometimes only rice, sometimes beans).
Yet even in those years, a modest arrangement of wildflowers from the roadside regularly adorned the table. And often, there were guests. He and his family never lost their dignity or their generosity.
"We were very poor," he said. "But I never felt deprived or belittled. My mother knew that her support and resources were not limited by her possessions or by the funds in a bank account. She had an inner feeling that everything we needed came from a spiritual sense of abundance. And that could not be taken away."
Every individual on earth has access to this sustenance. It is included in the endowment each one has always had from the Principle of all being. It is given by this Principle, which is God Himself. It is a treasure everyone can draw from.
Our true resources are of spiritual origin, a divine inheritance, inexhaustible, already ours in advance, from all eternity. In prayer, we can start from the standpoint of including all good, not from the position of needing to get something that we don't have or that God hasn't already provided.
Praying helps us recover from poverty or loss. Especially when it includes offering what we know, giving of what we have, rendering services to God and our neighbor. One's abilities can be employed in a variety of jobs or careers. When performed with the desire to give instead of merely to obtain, honest work is enriching and satisfying. God, the only Mind there is, enables everyone to think and act with spiritual intelligence, love, and joy - reflecting the infinite nature of God.
What Jesus taught illustrates that it is possible to learn what true wealth is, and to recover what may seem to be lost. He told the parable of a young man who asks his father for the part of the inheritance intended for him. (This expresses a limited way of thinking, because he wants to get his part - and before it is due.) He goes away and spends it all. Hungry and needy, he repents and returns to his father, who shows the young man how all that truly belongs to him is intact. His place as a loved son is restored. He is shown God's care and forgiveness. The portion he had demanded and wasted was not his real source of sustenance, and the selfish desire for getting it had not kept him wealthy.
This parable shows that the real inheritance of each of us is spiritual, and that it cannot be depleted.
Greed and willfulness are not from God and have no divine authority; therefore they have no power. They may appear as one's own nature, or as someone else's. But because they do not come from God, they cannot destroy the spiritual abundance of good that God has for everyone.
My friend's mother, who'd had everything unjustly taken from her, drew from infinite spiritual resources. She kept on giving without hesitation, and found a way out of poverty.
"Giving does not impoverish us in the service of our Maker, neither does withholding enrich us," wrote Mary Baker Eddy in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (pg. 79). Today, as was true in the time of Jesus, giving without fear of losing is a sure way to well-being - and to economic stability.
I mean not that other men
be eased, and ye burdened:
but by an equality, that now
at this time your abundance
may be a supply for their want,
that their abundance also may
be a supply for your want:
that there may be equality.
II Corinthians 8:13, 14
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society