At this time of year, giving is on our minds. When we give well, it is very different from giving simply as a chore, a burden to be carried out at specific times of the year.
To give well, we consider in depth the person and imagine what they might like to receive to add to their lives. Thoughtful giving encompasses loving outreach and acknowledgement of the importance of another.
Giving does not only mean the giving of physical gifts. Some of the best giving is done with words, with paying attention to someone, with friendship, with an encouragement to a child as they attempt to grow in their life. Demonstrating to another that they matter is giving, as in the case of giving one’s time to visit a lonely, elderly person.
The philosopher, David Whyte writes that giving is:
… done through the door of contemplation: of the person, the charity, the cause, finding the essence of the need, the person or the relationship. Out of this image comes the surprise of understanding and the ability again to surprise the recipient by showing that someone else understands them and through a display of giving virtuosity, can even identify needs they cannot admit themselves. … to give appropriately, always involves a tiny act of courage, a step of coming to meet, of saying I see you, and appreciate you…
‘Taking’ is the opposite, an ego-based approach to life with regard to the self rather than our fellow souls on their journeys here.
Receiving a gift, whatever form it takes, is not taking, it is a skill in itself. To receive thoughtfully, a person needs to acknowledge the thought imbued within the gift, the time taken by the giver and respond with understanding of the relationship implied by the gift.
Let us all be thoughtful givers, not only at Christmas, but throughout the year – By giving other souls the gift of our time, full attention and acknowledgement, we’ll add love to this world.
Whyte, David. ‘Consolations – The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words’. Many Rivers Press. Langley, Washington 2015.