“This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in.”
- Theodore Roosevelt
After Thanksgiving sales, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and all the other sales promotions overflowing my e-mail inbox, now I’m reminded that today is the “Day of Giving”
Just today? And, the giving should be a check, or better yet, a credit card payment to some charitable organization far away.
“Give today! Make a difference! Click, click, and you’re done.”
“We make it easy for you.”
“If you send us money, then your charitable obligations of the season are done. Duty fulfilled. Then back to your holiday consumerism and frivolity.”
It’s like the paying of indulgences in the Middle Ages, to buy my way into Heaven. I’m hearing Martin Luther remind me that handing over my pieces of silver isn’t where we should be going as a country.
Isn’t every day the day of giving? And the need is right in front of me. On the way to the coffee shop, I drive past the homeless person, standing in the rain, needing a meal, a job, a dry place to spend the night, maybe just someone to say that they care, that this person matters and is part of our community.
There is a line in front of the community library, waiting for it to open. People who need a warm, dry place, maybe some computer time so they can apply for a job, or connect with family, maybe just to be with others, or a good book to read, or a conversation.
There are other needs in my town, and I don’t have to look too far.
This time of year, the loneliness of jail and prison weighs heavy on many of the young men there I know.
For one young man, this month is the anniversary of his dad’s overdose and his best friend’s suicide, and his reoccurring nightmare of the aiming of the gun, the pulling of the trigger, and his own screams. His family doesn’t come to see him, and the playing of Christmas carols makes him cry.
I can’t give him much, and I can’t bring him peace. But I can sit with him and hear his story. I can praise his hard work and his rebuilding of his life. I can honor his plans to be an EMT, and thereby make the world a better place.
I have the gift of time with that young man, and our time together brings me joy. And perhaps that can give him some peace.
Each of us has the gift of time, the gift of compassion, the ability to listen with an open heart.
The Day of Giving — shouldn’t that be every day? Shouldn’t we take the time to say hi to our neighbor, to speak to someone at the grocery store or the post office, to genuinely inquire as to their well being, their soul?
The real giving doesn’t show up on my credit card bill or my tax return. The real giving is that few minutes a day we can choose to really engage with someone, to put forth some real care and concern, to love our fellow humans.
Genuine giving is so much more than some artificial “Day of Giving”.
“What are we here for? What is the value of our lives?” Those are the questions of the season.
The real giving shows up right here, right where we live, every day of the year, every day of our lives.
—Neal Lemery 11/29/2016