Flowering generosity.

A Day For Love

Flowering generosity.

Today is one of my favorite holidays of the year. It’s a chance to celebrate the spirit of love. It’s an opportunity to honor someone I care about. It’s a day to give extravagant gifts.

Happy Generosity Day.

***

If so much of being human is to
With another be completely open
Why is it then that what we often do
Is to let no be the response spoken
When need for help comes to us with a cry
Instead we could show our humanity
When need for kindness passes us nearby
Instead we could show generosity
Say yes to the man standing by the street
Say yes to tipping more than our whole bill
Say yes to blessing all those that we meet
Say yes to giving though we’ve reached your fill
And having opened wider than before
We are now able to be so much more

I spend a lot of time saying no to others. When a homeless man on the street corner asks for change, I often say no. When a canvasser for a charity interrupts me on the sidewalk and asks for a donation, I usually say no.

Sure, I don’t have the money to give to every person. But the danger is that I close myself down. The worry is that I say no so often that it becomes my mode of operation. The risk is that I see the world through the lens of scarcity.

To counter that danger, I have to say yes sometimes. I have to intentionally open myself to generosity.

That’s the spirit of Generosity Day. Just for one day, say yes to every request that comes your way. Just for one day, give unreasonable tips – $10 on a $2 coffee. Just for one day, give extravagantly.

But Generosity Day is more than opening yourself through giving. It is also remembering those who give to you.

***

i love to ride trains
unless the place i’m going
doesn’t have train tracks

Recently, I bid farewell to my grandfather. My whole family came together to remember him, to tell stories of his impact, and pay tribute to his life. Most of the events – the viewing, the funeral, and the burial – took place in the suburbs of Chicago. Getting there and back is possible by train, but not without inconvenience.

The trips would take significantly longer – twice as long in some cases. We’d have to get rides from other family members – timing the pick up times with the train schedule. And with my wife due any day, we’d have a harder time getting back to the city if she went into labor.

As much as I love public transportation, it wasn’t a good option.

But someone in our community answered our call for help. She lent us her car for the entire weekend. What a blessing that was.

Instead of having to worry about scheduling our time around train travel, we were able to focus on being with family. We were able to give attention to the memory of my grandfather. We were able to say goodbye without an extra stress in the way.

no obligation
to return something you found
that another lost

Heading downtown one morning, I sat in the corner of a packed train. Tired from yet again being up too late the night before, I fell asleep. So peaceful.

“Do not attempt to board the train, doors closing.” I jerked awake. Oh no. It was my stop.

I jumped up, grabbed my bag, and hopped out the door just before it closed. Phew. I woke up just in time.

Walking up the stairs toward the exit, I stuck my hand in my pocket. It was empty. Wait a minute, wasn’t my wallet in that pocket? The roar of the train faded into the distance – no chance of going back to get it.

But half an hour later, I got a phone call.

“Hello. Is this Joshua?” a stranger asked. She had found my wallet on the train. And instead of taking the money, she called me to give it back.

That afternoon, I went to the gym where she worked. She pulled out the wallet and handed it to me. I said thank you. She smiled.

time and attention
given by you to my art
an undeserved gift

Every week, after a several days of writing, I have a story ready to post here on the Bright Army. The post is done. All I have to do is hit publish.

I pause. Will anyone read it? Will anyone like it?

But it’s too late to turn back. I don’t have not enough time to write a different post, and I don’t want to break my streak. So I hit publish. The story goes live.

And you do read it. You give me two of your most precious resources: time and attention. Sometimes you even comment. You add your stories to what I’ve written. You build upon my work. You make it better.

All of these are gifts. I do not deserve them. But they’re given to me anyways.

***

rain falls down upon
the flower of the meadow
blessing it with life
the flower of the meadow
a beauty for those passing

Generosity changes the giver. But it also changes the recipient.

I open to the other person. I form a bond with them. Most of the time, I have no ability to repay the gifts given to me – I’m unable to match the generosity with an equivalent act. So all that is left to do is to draw closer to the giver.

I open to gratitude. For all I have, I deserve nothing – absolutely nothing. When I remember, I appreciate the abundance I’ve been given. I become mindful of all the blessings I have.

I open to generosity. I may not be able to repay the gifts shown to me. I may not be able live up to the debt of gratitude. But I can pass the generosity along. I can become a blessing to others just as others are a blessing to me.

***

So on this Generosity Day – on this day of saying yes – open your heart to giving. But also open your heart to the acts of generosity shown to you. And then it will, truly, be a day for love.

***

What about you? What are some acts of generosity that you’ve received? How have they affected you?

###

PHOTO: Flowering generosity. Slovenia.

PS: For those of you who are wondering, no baby yet.

7 thoughts on “A Day For Love”

  1. Limitless generosities expound
    Sun gives warmth and light
    Moon sees stars bright
    Men’s music – a sweethearts delight
    Women sing life’s hymn … within

    Thank you for your generosity Joshua, it’s plentiful and received fully in a deep, deep well, fashioned from your vision, words and music.

  2. My good friend Ruth told me that the nicest thing we can give someone is to graciously accept the gift they give us.

    I think that accepting from others sparks all kinds of thoughts and feelings of neediness, reciprocity and vulnerability. So it’s hard to do. It’s also necessary if you want to build a team, to delegate, to grow your offering bigger than you.

    It takes the ability to accept to be able to lead and grow.

  3. Frances, I love that. I find that it’s easy to make generosity about me (even though that’s not the point). Being vulnerable enough to accept the gifts of another is good way to counter that.

  4. Generosity, giving gifts is a free gift from the outhor of gifts and life giver,so we give gifts freely to the deserving and live it.

  5. I wonder why generosity is easier for some than others?

    I also think that acknowledging generosity is important. I think this is easier for some than others also.

  6. Josephine, Well said. All we have is gift.

    judy, I can’t speak for other people, but I’ve found increased generosity through practice. Maybe I have an advantage because of my personality and mentors (such as Grandpa), but I’ve made a deliberate effort to say yes more often. As a result, I can see an increase in my capacity to give and receive over the last few years.

    Also, I found Sasha Dichter’s discussion helpful – http://sashadichter.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/generosity-day-in-graphs/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *