Even the mention of the word raises a feeling of condemnation with thoughts of not doing enough. That word is generosity. Guilt rises at the sight of the war veteran standing at the red light with a hand-scrawled, cardboard sign that says "will work for food, need your help, and God Bless." You want to look, acknowledge his humanity and make a connection, but doing so, demands I dig for my wallet and sacrifice. I would like to believe that I could give myself entirely to this virtue, but I reason that I have a family to feed and bills to pay. This topic is hard and worth spending the time to consider.
We are each on the sliding scale of generosity, somewhere between the pre-Christmas morning Scrooge and the Biblical widow that gave her last two very small copper coins. Depending on our sense of abundance; we can slide back and forth on the scale over the course of our lives. I don't come with judgment, but questions to help discover what generosity means to us, those around us and how we have experienced this virtuous gift.
My tendency is a desire to know a fixed quantity. I want to know if I am measuring up and can wear the generous merit badge before I accept the moniker. What is the metric I must achieve? I scream to the heavens; what does generosity look like in the 21st century?
Thankfully, we get an inkling of the metric when others extend a generous hand our way. This act takes the form of holding our hand while waiting in the emergency room, giving an amazing discount on the plumbing bill, taking the longer route home to drop off the kids while the car is in the shop or a cup of fresh water on a hot day. As much as the "man bites dog" media conveys there is only bad news outside our front door, we have each experienced the generosity of those around us.
A step towards defining generosity is to become acutely aware of its presence around us. Intentionally looking for the generous act becomes a game and it will show up in the most unexpected places and take on many forms. Watch for it over the next week and marvel at the abundance, regardless of reciprocation.
How do you define generosity? What feelings well up when you hear the word generous? How do you contend with saying "no" to opportunities for generosity? How do you find yourself trying to "measure up" when it comes to generosity? How did you last receive the generosity from another?