Give It All Away

First, a thought:

Charity is the power of defending that which we know to be indefensible. Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances which we know to be desperate. It is true that there is a state of hope which belongs to bright prospects and the morning; but that is not the virtue of hope. The virtue of hope exists only in earthquake and eclipse. It is true that there is a thing crudely called charity, which means charity to the deserving poor; but charity to the deserving is not charity at all, but justice. It is the undeserving who require it, and the ideal either does not exist at all, or exists wholly for them. For practical purposes it is at the hopeless moment that we require the hopeful man, and the virtue either does not exist at all, or begins to exist at that moment. Exactly at the instant when hope ceases to be reasonable it begins to be useful.

GK Chesterton

Today, Tuesday, December 2, is our National Day of Giving. It is all jammed up with other "national"  days, but it may be the most important of the cluster.

To give is freely transfer that which one has to another. It sounds so simple, and, in theory, it is. What I find difficult for myself is the actual releasing of what I am holding. I think, rationally, that if I let my hand relax, whatever precious little I have will vanish, and I'll be left empty handed. But this is simultaneously irrational, because it is only when we deplete ourselves that we are empty and free to receive.

It isn't that I don't want to give -- I do. I realize that there are many people who need things that I get without thought or have without need. And, like everyone, I selfishly enjoy the feeling of selflessness that accompanies so-called "charitable giving." But what I learned many years ago and still have a hard time with is that giving away what we don't want or need or giving to feel good is actually not charity.

Charity is not only benevolent, but generous. And that generosity of spirit doesn't only allow us to give what we don't need, it shows us how to give in abundance, how to give beyond what we "should" give. And this leads us to giving of ourselves -- giving the intangibles that we have been given undeservingly and without any reason other than the generosity of the universe or God or something else larger than we are. So today, I challenge you to find ways to give not just of your money or your things, but to give of yourself. And don't stop there.

Find ways to enrich your own life by accepting the abundance of others. Take what others offer, and be inspired by their generosity. Listen to their stories. Read their books. View their art. Accept their gifts. Let the spirit that feeds us all flow throw them to you and you to others. Life is about a lot of things. But most of all, it is about love. Love generously.