Just give

>> Monday, May 7, 2012

Just give.

I have come up with this message time after time this past week or so. It seems that it's the universe's message to me personally.

This morning, in my email box:

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”Mahatma Gandhi
These quotes are littered throughout the internet these days, in cute/touching/arresting images shared on Facebook, or tweeted and retweeted again and again and again. They mean next to nothing to me, when it comes down to it. I think about it for a second, and move on. They have no depth, no substance behind them any longer--even when it's clear the originator came to that conclusion from a place of truth.

Unless they're paired with a larger context.

In my life, this quote in my email this morning perfectly punctuates the other messages I've been receiving all week. The goings on of this week make the above quote poignant, meaningful, and true.

Reading Pam Houston's Sight Hound, this passage rose up and almost had me weeping in the middle of the Bread Peddler. The conversation involves a man and his grandmother, who's health is failing:

"What is it, Brooklyn, do you think makes people happy?" she asked.
I refilled her glass of lemonade from the pitcher my mother had left with us that morning. the ice was long melted, and the smell of the tiny lavender blossoms she always mixed in with the liquid had gotten stronger in the heat.
"I would think" I said, "that would depend on the person."
"That's what they think too,"she said, smiling, "but they're wrong."
I looked down at my own hands, which had aged in the war and now looked more like my father's. I didn't want to waste another answer, but my father was walking toward us with an armload of mustard greens and chard and radishes, and when he got there he would ask me to take them inside and clean them, get them ready to be braised for dinner that night.
"the land?" I said, since that's what she was looking at, the Eden she'd lived on or near since she was a girl.
"Not the land," she said, "not fame, not money, not work, not art. She glanced over at my mother in her studio. "Not even love."
"Though love is nice," I said, and she gripped my hands tighter.
"Very, very nice," she said. "All of these things can be nice," she said, "even money. They will make you happy for ten minutes each, but ten minutes isn't long, held next to a life."
I had spent a lot of time that summer thinking about how to earn money, and even more time thinking about how to find love. My father had stopped to wash his hands at the garden well.
"I don't know then," I said, "tell me."
"You do," she said, and I wracked my brain.
"Maybe you're giving me more credit," I said, "than I deserve."
"Maybe," she said, "you're afraid to admit what you know."
My father was moving toward us again.
"Service?" I said, because that had always been the word in my head. When I was a child I thought it was God actually speaking it. I still thought that might be true.
"She nodded. "Generosity," she said, "is the word I would use, but if service is your word, I think we mean the same thing."
"I was thinking," I said, "of reenlisting, of being an Army veterinarian when I get done with school."
"That sounds like a good plan," my father said, though he had already heard it, had said the same exact words in answer the night before.
"This has nothing to do with paybacks," my grandmother said, "nothing that you owe, nothing you are owed in return."
"I know that," I said, because I had learned it in the Gulf War. I knew on earth there was no fairness other than whatever we created. I knew how the logic of an eye for an eye failed the minute a 1.15 billion dollar airplane dropped cluster bombs on a village whose people didn't have enough to eat.
"What you don't yet know," she said, "is that the reward is immediate, consistent, reliable."

I believe that the message for me-and for you as well, perhaps-is to truly give, and to give not because it is my duty, or that's how I was raised, or that's how I'll be respected/perceived as indespensible/loved.

I am to give because my giving creates an open channel through which divinity can flow through, a current that can touch the lives of those around me. If I can be a vessel for this flow, I can let go of all other expectations, because this flow is of utmost importance. This flow is what the world needs most. If I can open up and be this God-flow on this earth, my life is complete. I am attaining my highest potential, and doing the highest good.

If my giving comes from a truly unselfish place, I can just let go and watch as those around me experience more ease, more happiness.

I'm thinking of housecleaning, mundane as that sounds. If I can just, give...give the gift of my time without resentment or tallying who did what last, so who deserves to be let off now....I can give my family the gift of spaciousness. Of time. I can give Owen the gift of openness, and uncluttered life. I can give Brant the gift of release, of freeness.

I want to give that gift without expectation of reciprocity.


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