I am pleased with my new wall hanging of Lakshmi. Its impact exceeds its $17.00 price tag, and Amazon Prime delivered it within three days. Outlined with sequins, the image reflects the light through the window, brilliant in the morning light, and faintly glowing throughout the night.
Many days after a recent yoga practice introduced me to her story, my thoughts return to the idea of abundance that Lakshmi represents. It’s a good time of year, with Thanksgiving coming up, to have this added reminder visible from my bed, prompting me to be grateful.
Our bedroom walls are schizophrenic. To the right is Lakshmi, the latest addition. Between the two windows is a simple cross I made of two large branches. On the left wall is a huge canvas of three Buddhas. Behind the bed there are four shallow wall shelves that hold a hodgepodge of assorted items: a Winnie the Pooh from my childhood, tools my father owned, birthday cards from my kids, Frank’s grandmother’s opera binoculars, a copy of Les Miserables bound in five books. Also on that wall is a canvas of Audrey Hepburn wearing the quintessential little black dress. And to think I once went through a simplicity phase when I tried to reduce clutter. Schizophrenic, indeed.
My goal in buying the Lakshmi hanging was to have a reminder that I have all I need. But its presence has brought to light an opposite truth, the fact that I’m always looking for more. Instead of looking at the eternal flow of coins pouring from Lakshmi’s hand and visualizing my many blessings, like an overindulged child on Christmas morning who tears into present after present, never stopping long enough to play with one much less appreciate it, I look at those coins and wonder, “What’s next?”
I find myself as one who cries, “‘Peace! Peace!’ When there is no peace.” I aspire to hear the old hymn It Is Well with My Soul as the song that plays inside my head, and yet all I hear is Britney Spears’ Give Me More.
I believe gratitude for what I have can lead me to contentment and joy, but my bedroom walls belie that supposition. This ailment refuses to confine itself to material procession but taints both my image of self (if I only weighted more, if my hair was only this color, if my beard was only this long, if only…, if only…, if only…) and my perspective regarding relationships (if he would just…). It sends me looking outward for something impossible to find because inner peace is inner, you dummy. The longing and searching creates even more discontent and turmoil, not only in yourself, but also for those caught up in your wake.
The abundance of coins ceaselessly cascading from Lakshmi’s hand pile onto an overflowing lily pad that floats in front of her lotus blossom seat. What if that lily pad of coins was all I had? It’s obviously more than enough. It’s mine. She’s given it to me. Why not just take it and be grateful? Maybe I can forget about the coins to come, and think instead of the coins that are. If another appears, how cool is that? I already had plenty, but thank you!
And is it heresy to think I could give that extra coin to someone else? As Sister Ann Wenita Morelove, I’ve spent an embarrassing amount of time imagining I look like Audrey Hepburn. What would it hurt to imagine that I am Lakshmi, where an endless supply of abundance flows through me to others?
Gain all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can.
— John Wesley