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[caption id="attachment_171297" align="aligncenter" width="1180"]"Quarantine and earrings" by Laura B. Nelson (CatholicMom.com) Image by Marco Zanferrari (2012), Flickr.com, CC BY SA 2.0[/caption]


One day, you’re going to work and school. The next, you can’t find toilet paper to save your life. It seems that we went from a life of abundance to a life of deprivation and scarcity in one fell swoop. During the first few weeks of the pandemic (or my local version of it), it felt like there was nothing certain or under control. Everything was about what we couldn’t do or couldn’t get.

After a couple of weeks of staying safe at home, I started to get restless for some variety in my life. But, how do you get variety when you can’t really leave your house? You get creative. So, like any reasonable person, I went to my earrings for help.

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I glanced at the cluttered top of my dresser and saw the collection of earrings I’ve acquired over the years (nothing precious, just costume pieces). It occurred to me that I only wear two or three pairs of them on a regular basis. In fact, there were some that I couldn’t remember wearing for years. That’s when inspiration struck. I couldn’t leave the house, but I could certainly wear a different pair of earrings every day. It would be a bit of a game to see which would end first, my earrings or the quarantine. Plus, it would make me feel a little fancy, which might boost morale (mine, at least). I promised myself not to worry if the earrings matched my outfit or the occasion (working at home doesn’t usually mean wearing rhinestone earrings). And with that in mind, I started my Earring Odyssey.

Every day I wore a different pair of earrings and took a picture to document my journey. If the earrings hurt or made my ears itch, at the end of the day they would be offered to my daughter or donated to charity. My daughter got a few new pairs of earrings and I cleaned out my collection. It was a win-win. But over time, my Earring Odyssey started taking on more meaning for me.

I began to look at my earrings as a reminder of the abundance surrounding me even if toilet paper was scarce. I may not have access to everything I think I need, but I’m blessed with abundance in many aspects of my life. So many people around the world experience such deep and unrelenting scarcity that I realized I couldn’t think of myself as deprived in any way, even in quarantine. It was a gentle slap in the face to look at what I have instead of what I don’t.

This applies to my spiritual life too. My earrings helped me see the spiritual riches that are available to me as well as the physical abundance in my life. Riches like prayer, Scripture, and the Sacraments are available to me at nearly every moment, yet I neglect so many of them. Like my earrings, I go back to the same two or three sources of grace day to day and don’t even see the mountain of spiritual riches that the Church offers me.

And, of course, the scarcity mindset that led me to my Earring Odyssey can easily creep into my view of God. Do I feel like there isn’t enough of God to go around? That there are limits to His love and mercy? Do I need to “panic buy” more of His forgiveness through acts of service or praying more Rosaries? No. God’s love and mercy are infinitely abundant. There is no scarcity with God. But I will only see and appreciate God’s abundance if I look for it. Strangely, wearing earrings helped me remember that.

Copyright 2020 Laura B. Nelson