Posted by: riverchilde | September 26, 2012

An abundance of Nerf darts

Yesterday I wrote of my grief over packing Alex’s Nerf guns away. Today, I thought of the good memories associated with those Nerf guns. Of Alex’s face each year at Christmas when he would open the latest new Nerf gun. Of Eric and Alex chasing around the house firing darts at one another. Of the basement filled with shouts and laughter as Alex and his friends had Nerf gun wars down there. Of the look of awe on the face of Alex’s little cousin Eli when he saw the rack of Nerf guns, some almost longer than he was tall, and his utter delight when Alex would take them down and allow Eli to join him in a battle against Eric and Eli’s sister Nika.

But what I remember most is trying to convince Alex that it would be fine to have Nerf gun battles outdoors. Because, you see, Alex was afraid of losing some of the darts. In the house, we were sure to always find them, even if it was months later. In fact, I’m still finding Nerf darts all over, four months after his death. I’ll probably keep finding them for years in the nooks and crannies of our house.

Which leads to the irony of Alex’s fears. He had enough Nerf darts to lose a few and not miss them. I even told him I would willingly purchase more as the necessary cost of seeing him and his friends engage so happily and wholeheartedly in the most epic outdoor Nerf battle of all time. I wanted him to be able to acknowledge and fully live in the abundance that we provided. To know that there were enough Nerf darts to go around, so that he didn’t need to hoard them or keep them to himself or protect them, but could joyfully share them with his friends. Because there were enough. Enough for all.

But instead, like so many of us, Alex sometimes lived not with a sense of abundance, but with the fear that somehow by sharing what he had, he would lose his sense of abundance. And again, I consider the irony of that. Because we can’t live fully and abundantly when we keep our abundance to ourselves. When we don’t share our Nerf darts with others, we constrain our lives, limit the joy and possibilities that come with fearless giving and sharing, and live with a scarcity mentality that locks us away from others.

Abundance is defined as “overflowing fullness.” Alex experienced overflowing fullness in his love for his friends and his family. But for some reason, our society tells us that when it comes to “stuff,” we can never have enough. Because of that, so many of us never experience the kind of overflowing fullness that allows us to uninhibitedly live knowing that we now have and will have enough. That whatever we have will be sufficient unto the day.*

I guess it takes losing what is most precious to you to make you realize the need to live with a sense of abundance rather than a sense of scarcity. For when you have lost what is most precious to you, you realize that “stuff” matters very little. What matters is people, our relationships to one another, and the way that we can bring light and love into one another’s lives, whether by our presence or our openhearted sharing of ourselves and our “stuff.”

In losing Alex, we faced a choice in how to live. We could turn inward, wrap our arms around our broken hearts, and focus on our loss and pain. Or we could see our hearts as being broken open to and for the world, allow that pained love to flow out, and to throw our arms open wide to embrace the world in all its tragedy and beauty. For life is “brutiful,” as Glennon Melton says often in her blog “Momastery.”

So these days, we try to live abundantly, not in hopes of God’s blessing raining down on us, but in recognition of the blessings that he has already given and will continue to give us. Because it’s not our “stuff” that gets enriched when we uninhibitedly share our Nerf darts, it’s our hearts.**

And it is all of you who taught us that, when you so abundantly shared your love, your lives, your hugs, your cassseroles, your donuts, your oranges, your tears, your financial gifts, and your precious time in the days, weeks and months after Alex’s death. Thank you for the lessons in abundance.

*Matthew 6:25-34

**2 Corinthians 9:6-15



  1. If you ever miss picking up darts, you can come to our house and pick up some. Our kitten likes to chew them, so now Paul buys them for the him to play with. Nothing like stepping on a wet, chewed up dart in the middle of the night.

  2. This one brought me to tears — but in a good way. Thank you for sharing so fully and evocatively with the world. I know it cannot be easy, but it is a sign of your abundant way of being in the world.

  3. Your words help me so much. Like taking a deep breath. Thank you.

    • Desiree, I’m gratified that my words make a difference for you. May peace and love enfold you.

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