What holds true for the soil-that you must give it more than you take away-also holds true for nations, institutions, marriage, friendship, education, in short for human culture as a whole, which comes into being and maintains itself in time only as long as it cultivators overgive of themselves      – Robert Pogue Harrison in Gardens, p. 33.

My students, but I only start with them because they are in the position, professionally, of trying to understand, often have difficultly with the concept of an economy of abundance or gift. How is it they ask that the true economy is not one of scarcity when that is all we can see. My example is always forgiveness. There is never a limit on how much we can forgive, nor on how often we can be forgiven.

But perhaps the better example is gardening. The true gardener for RPH is the person who is able to pay attention to, and to cultivate, the soil. It is in reference to the soil that he is able to say that you must give more than you take away. The true gardener delights in the soil, in the soil’s ability to grow plants; but with a focus to the soil not in anticipation for the plants. And this is perhaps how economies of abundance work. To participate we must give more than we take away. But if we do this, we will (hopefully without expecting), receive more than we could have imagined.


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