The Beauty of Giving
"To give is to receive" is a truth that can be found in almost every religion ranging from Christianity to Buddhism. The core intention is to practice giving without attachment for a return. Like unconditional love, there is a tremendous ripple effect in unconditional giving. It is not just about money. Opportunities present themselves if you live consciously. We are not independent of each other; we are interdependent. We all must practice to give and receive...both with gratitude and humility.
I was blessed to be reminded of this golden law of life a few days ago. On my way home, I decided to pick up dinner at one of my husband's favorite places. As I approached the door, a fit, friendly, older gentlemen entered before me. I saw him wave to the cooks and chit chat with the cashier as I decided what to get. He turned around and asked if I knew what I wanted and I said yes; but, was happy to wait for him. I was not in a hurry...just came from a very relaxing yoga class.
He told me to go ahead and order. I did. Then, right after I was done, he told the cashier to put it on his tab. Our eyes made direct contact and I knew what he was practicing. The law of unconditional giving.
It is beautiful to receive; but, also humbling. Not in a negative way...but, in rather...a way that reminds you that we are in this together. I could have just as easily done the same for him. I profoundly expressed my gratitude for his generosity and he simply said he was happy to do it. He had not been given the opportunity the whole day and when I walked in, he seized the moment to give.
It takes courage (heart) to give. It takes courage to receive. Egos, suspicious thoughts, fears and wrong assumptions can and do interfere with the gracious actions of giving and receiving.
Being of a karmic mindset, I intuitively knew I had an opportunity waiting for me. I felt it. The giver had already sat down at his table while I was waiting for my to-go order. I knew I would miss something if I did not take the time to sit down and talk to him. I approached his table and asked if I could talk to him for a few minutes.
His cheeks rose to expose a warm smile and gestured for me to sit down. "I just want to thank you again for dinner. It was very kind of you. I am a big believer in what you just did and wanted to know your story if you don't mind sharing it with me."
"I'm happy to share. For the past sixteen years, my wife and I have done what we can to help others. Each Christmas, we have had the privilege of having several inner city children come to our home and provide them with food, gifts and unconditional happiness. If I felt like it would make a difference, I would be a pastor; however, I think I'm able to do more without being stuck behind a pulpit preaching. I go to share the Word of God at homeless shelters once a week and at prisons twice a week. I just want the ignored or those who feel unloved know that they are loved. My wife and I have made this our way of life."
I nodded in agreement and told him he defintely walks the walk vs. talking about it.
"I would give my last dollar if I knew it would help someone. I want to find a way to help others directly instead of charities. I know the money given to charities is not always used for the intended purpose. I want my money to make a direct difference in a positive way in another's life."
His eyes glazed over with tears and he paused to catch his surfacing emotion of grief.
"I'm a bit lost now...because I lost my wife a little over a year ago. We helped others as a team. Now, it's just me and I'm trying to figure out what is the most beneficial way to give."
Then, I knew my opportunity was present. I could feel his sorrow. I reached for his hand, looked him in the eyes and told him how sorry I was for his loss. I went on to tell him that he will find his way that works and that he has no idea of the difference he is making. I told him I was honored to be reminded by him that there are good people all around us. We sometimes forget due to the plethora of negative news we are exposed to. I wished that people like him were in the news more...so people could see that goodness dominates when you open your eyes. And, that all of us have the ability to practice the art of giving and receiving.
He smiled and nodded in agreement. I could read his mind. So, I stated what I knew he was thinking. "But, if all the random good acts of kindness were televised, it would defeat the purpose of the intention of not expecting anything in return."
He knew I knew what he did not say and simply said, "that is correct."
At that moment, my meal was brought to the table and it was time to go. As I started to get up, he told me thank you. "Thank you for your time. It has been a rather hard day for me and talking to you has lifted my spirits. Most people don't say anything and some people actually reject my offers...which is fine. But you shared your kindness with me and that means a lot."
For the second time in twenty minutes, I was auspiciously humbled and grateful. It truly was a beautiful circle of give and take...no agendas, no conditions...just person to person...spirit to spirit.
"Perhaps we will cross paths again", he said. I said I'm sure we will for like minded tend to migrate together. I also told him that what he did today will continue to be paid forward. I would make certain of that promise.
I have done and will continue to do what I said. I can't share the details...for that would defeat the purpose.
Give a random act of kindness a try. It is great to do things for family and friends...but, it is somewhat expected. Giving to a stranger is a love generator. You feel good making a difference and the receiver experiences a moment of being special. We all need more of these moments.
Doing the unexpected for an unknown receiver has a beauty of its own. In fact, consider yourself being a shooting star that spreads a little light that makes one open their eyes a bit wider.