Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Giver

"The thoughts that come often unsought, and as it were, drop into the mind, are commonly the most valuable of any we have. "
-John Locke

In high school, we have a retreat every year just before the school year will officially close. Our last year in high school was the longest one. We stayed in the building for 2 days and 3 nights. On the first night, we all gathered together in the mess hall for the dinner. We were grouped into five and so were five tables in the hall. After we prayed, we were so shocked to open the covered plates that we only have 3 pieces of small fish and a cup of rice! Oh no, why is that? Did they forget that we are 8 in the group? We really didn’t know what to do or how to handle it. We were so confused looking at the other table and found out that some have the same problem – a shortage of food while the 2 other tables had more than enough? What’s going on here? At first, we hesitated to ask for food. Some classmates share their blessings while some just said… well, it’s okay- that’s our food, why bother to share?

Some people I guess are just lucky to have been born in the US. Some are fortunate to have been born with silver spoon in their mouth. Some are unfortunate to have alcoholic parents. Some are unlucky to have been born in a Third-World country. Some are doing exceptionally good despite poverty while some are helplessly pulling themselves down even with their riches because they just fail to appreciate what they have been given. However, despite all these, we are still part of the equation. We can either choose to be the plus or the minus in our own family, in our community and to the whole world in general.

To me, the lesson for the whole dinner activity (retreat) is sharing- in the prefect sense of the word. I believe that what you have in excess is not yours at all. Life is not fair? Yes.

Kahlil Gibran of the “The Prophet” best described “GIVING” as:

You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?
And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to the overprudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city?
And what is fear of need but need itself?
Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, thirst that is unquenchable?
There are those who give little of the much which they have - and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.
And there are those who have little and give it all.
These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.
There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.
And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism.
And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue;
They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space.
Though the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth.
It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding;
And to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving
And is there aught you would withhold?
All you have shall some day be given;
Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors'.
You often say, "I would give, but only to the deserving."
The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.
They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.
Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights is worthy of all else from you.
And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.
And what desert greater shall there be than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving?
And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you may see their worth naked and their pride unabashed?
See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving.
For in truth it is life that gives unto life - while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.
And you receivers - and you are all receivers - assume no weight of gratitude, lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives.
Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings;
For to be overmindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity who has the free-hearted earth for mother, and God for father.

3 Grateful Heart's Words:

Mel Alarilla said...

A truly giving heart is a grace from God. If we give, out of the overflowing love we have for our fellowmen just like what Christ did, then that giving is from above and will be surely rewarded by our heavenly Father. But when we give out of our abundance and in search of recognition and acclaim, then our giving and the recognition we received are the reward themselves. We should not then expect any reward from our heavenly Father. Thanks for the inspired post. God bless you always.

Warren Baldwin said...

Good post. I've heard of Gibran and his book but I've never read it. I esp. liked this statement: "It is when you give of yourself that you truly give."

This is so true!! My wife is great about doing things FOR people, not just giving things TO them. She likes that personal touch.

Good post. wb

zunnur said...

A good reminder to all, not to become a slave to the body that heeds to greed and selfishness, but to conquer it by learning to share.
"..what you have in excess is not yours at all." - very well said and very true indeed.