for there is no grace in a benefit that sticks to the fingers.”
attributed to Lucius Annaeus Seneca, the Roman Stoic philosopher
Everywhere I turn, there’s an expectation or another message to “Give!” – holiday gifts for family and friends, “Giving Tuesday” appeals for charitable donations, and all those admonitions to give self-care to ourselves first so we can be present to others! Now my friends and colleagues are posting invitations on social media to give “Random Acts of Kindness” throughout the month. No wonder that quote caught my eye!
Seneca, who enjoyed a privileged upbringing, thought deeply and wrote about morality and ethics. He believed wealth should be used properly to benefit others and encouraged finding contentment not from the relentless pursuit of wealth, but from thrift. (Presumably, his audience already had a certain level of financial stability…)
In whatever ways we experience wealth or privilege in our own lives, we can choose to use the gifts we have - material, practical, or in spirit - to benefit others. Being generous is more than the moral or right thing to do in a world of economic inequity; it affirms the power of mutual care we experience in community and also feels good. What has been your experience of generosity?
These weeks, I encourage you to give cheerfully, quickly and without hesitation…
…. The mittens, gloves, hat, or scarf that are the unexpected staples to our neighbors coming to the food pantry.
…. The toy or game that’s new to a child nearby, or maybe even something they’ve always wished for.
…. The financial support that is needed by grass-roots organizations far away doing important work.
May the thrift you practice in order to provide unexpected gifts to others bring you contentment.
And, may you know the pleasures of giving and receiving Random Acts of Kindness in your every day.
With blessings for the journey,