Updated: May 21
As we look to close out 2022, and I look to write my final post of this very difficult year for so many, it is a good time to reflect on the things of this year that took place in our lives. It is also a time to reflect on the ritual practice of "giving" throughout the holiday season.
Our language, together and individually, is full of metaphors, analogies, euphemisms and various and assorted ways to feel better about the act of giving,. For example, "it is better to give than to receive."
This expression is among one of the most familiar, widely quoted and clichéd, especially at this time of year. It is most often associated with the tradition of giving gifts, material gifts, to others during the Christmas season. It carries with it the connotation that we should never expect a gift but rather look to give them to others.
However, true giving, can never be measured materially but only in the intangible things that are truly meant to be given away. These spiritual yet palpable gifts are elusive to many in a world that places all of its value and worth on the mantra of "more is better." Time and again that expression has proven to be the harbinger of grief and sorrow for those who are addicted to more, living by yet another expression "the one who dies with the most toys wins." The absurdity of that particular expression is a case in the pointlessness of putting all of our value on "things."
In contrast, what if we were to focus on a lifestyle of giving it all away. Not becoming ascetics. But rather changing our focus from the giving and amassing of material objects to giving away all of the things that provide for a fuller, richer, more complete life..for ourselves and for those whose lives we touch every day.
If you were to take an inventory of your life, I expect you would see, as I have at times in my own, that you have a tendency to horde these particular things. Not necessarily intentionally, but perhaps out of fear of the consequences of giving them away.
Why do we need to give them away? Yes, I'm getting to that. That answer can be viewed with a broad or narrow lens. In the broad sense, we need to give them away because they are really not ours to keep. With a narrow lens, we need to give them away because they do us no good if we conceal them and keep them to ourselves.
What are these things? Joy, love, and a smile - these are the gifts we are meant to be giving away each and every day. We have the capacity to give away all the joy, love and smiles that people around us need and yet we hold back, attaching conditions to those gifts. Whether it is feeling awkward or different or fear of rejection, we stop short of giving it all away to those who need it most.
For us, these things bring attention to the beating of our own hearts and those things we hold within them. It costs us nothing and the response we receive from those to whom we offer these gifts in turn fills our cups until they runneth over! And it gives so very much, enriching us internally, spiritually, and then lives of those on the receiving end of our giving are magnified.
For those whose lives we touch when we present these gifts, we enable the creation of memories that will last forever. We brighten the day to those who are weary and discouraged, and provide much needed soul medicine to those who are sad, lonely or depressed. It is the antidote to our brothers and sisters in a broken and weary world in need of hope. And trust me when I say, no one needs these things more than those who don't have anything to give.
Friends, as we enter a new year, remember, we cannot squander these precious gifts and keep them to ourselves or they will wither and die within us. In our year ahead, our heads should be filled with the idea of giving it all away and that should be followed by our life-giving action of actually doing so!
Happy New Year everyone!
"Give it all away,
The reward is far greater,
And hearts are opened."