Something About The Spirit of Giving...

An excerpt from an old post in the old blog that I felt like expressing again today...

"One of the greatest barriers to connection is the cultural importance we place on "going it alone." Somehow we've come to equate success with not needing anyone. Many of us are willing to extend a helping hand, but we're very reluctant to reach out for help when we need it ourselves. It's as if we've divided the world into "those who offer help" and "those who need help." The truth is that we are both.

~ Brené Brown

Over the past hour, the space heater has brought my room up to 57F from 51F, and I'm still pretty uncomfortable. (Before you mock me for being a weather pussy, remember - I am SOCal. :P) And in moments like this, it occurs to me that there are homeless people out there huddling to keep warm on sidewalks, some of them in much colder places, maybe even between tall buildings where the wind channels and blusters even colder (I remember how shockingly cold New York was in Spring), and I think to myself

There but for the grace of the Universe go I...

A lot of people helped me without judgment when I spent that
Winter in a Chicago tenement alone, and I am so grateful,
even more for their lessons than their gifts.

I can remember being much younger and judging the homeless even as I helped them - only buying them food because I deemed that was what they needed or should need, and refusing to give them money, because I certainly wasn't going to contribute to their drugged or alcoholic delinquency...

And then some interesting life happened to me, and I realized that things can happen for us, and to us, that are out of our control. Good things and bad things. And when some really bad things happened to me, and I was on the receiving end of both true compassion and kindness, and the kind of so-called help that judges, I realized that even in my lowest and most desperate moments, I wasn't so low and so desperate that I didn't know the difference between those who pitied and judged me and those who respected my dignity while extending their hand to me.

In this season of high charity, I think it's good to remember that the spirit in which we give is of as much, or even greater impact, than the thing we give itself. To remember to give, not with a sense of pity or superiority, but with the understanding that it has been, could be, or will be us on the receiving end in another time.

Today and every day, I am thankful for the people who gave me a hand up - not only with things, but also with heart - instead of a handout, when I needed it most. I hope I honor their generous spirits with my own spirit when giving.




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