Friday, March 11, 2005

The practice of giving

I believe in the practice of giving…

Life is about give and take. We breathe in; we breathe out. We take in food and drink; we expel fluids and waste. Even sex, our richest and most intimate interaction with others, is an act of giving and taking—inserting and retrieving or receiving and releasing, depending upon your position. Life is about give and take. The balance of life is maintained through both receiving and giving. If we only receive, we break the cycle of life. The same is true if we only give—we interrupt life’s delicate balance.

The practice of giving is a spiritual practice, one to be honored and treasured, to be respected and esteemed, one to be attended to faithfully. Giving is not merely a responsibility, not an obligation or a chore. The opportunity to give is a gift, and to honor the cycle of life, our work is to give thanks for each occasion to give and to seek out those opportunities.

To be true, I could possibly write a book on the practice of giving as there are so many aspects to discuss. Today I simply meditate on some of those aspects.

I do not want to take lightly my own practice of giving. I do not want to be casual or unconscious in my gifts. I want to be mindful and participate in the giving. I believe in and practice two kinds of giving: anonymous giving and acknowledged giving. There is an experience in practicing anonymous giving that you cannot have any other place in life. Sometimes when I give and the receiver knows not the source of my gift, the value of the gift is enhanced and the return on my giving is deepened because my ego is out of the way. The gift and the recipient are not about me. But other times life asks my gifts to be known, and part of the give-and-take cycle includes the practice of receiving acknowledgment. Life wants me to know how to be humble in the face of another’s appreciation. My experience needs to know how to receive thanks as well as give it. It is not always easy to be quiet and allow gratitude. For me it is much easier to give it; and life wants me to be on both ends. I need to hear the same appreciation I give. I seek to practice both anonymous and acknowledged giving in my regular life patterns.

Our society and culture promote acquiring, receiving, getting, learning, growing, having. Only a little bit about giving, and certainly not an equal portion to what we receive. Even the Christian principle of giving ten percent is a tiny portion in comparison to what we receive. We disrupt our own balance of life as well as that of the universe when we do not give.

What you give and what I give are different things. Giving is not only about things of matter but is also about time and energy, ideas, help, instruction, encouragement, compliments, and oh, so much more.

Let me be committed, let me be attentive, let me be faithful to my practice of giving...

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