Saturday, August 22, 2015

No Small Thing: How to Change the World for the Better…In Our Lifetime

How you help the world become a better, more caring place every day, even if you don't realize it…

I heard that walking is great exercise. So I began such a
program a couple of years ago. It turned out exercise wasn’t the only thing I got from walking. 

Each morning I take a different route. The first morning I noticed that, all along the sidewalk there were little bits and pieces of litter, litter that most people won’t notice because they’re usually in a hurry or paying attention to something else. So, the next morning, I took a pair of gloves and a small plastic shopping bag with me. I picked up a few pieces of the litter. When I retraced my steps on the way home, it appealed to me that now, the sidewalk didn’t have so much litter. It was only a small thing to do, but it made a difference. 

I took a different route the third day. I noticed that there were several people out early, painting over graffiti that had been sprayed onto some of the local buildings. I stopped to ask why they were doing that. They all agreed that in order to keep the community a clean place, doing this job was absolutely necessary. I asked if painting over would stop the graffiti. No, they answered. Only counseling and a community mind change will do that. We’re just doing our part. They were. It was a small thing to do, but it made a difference. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Bring All The Gifts! - The Joy of Giving Without Obligation

"We…tire of those pleasures we take, 
but never of those we give." 
John Pettit-Senn

Growing up in a conservative church background, I remember clearly the demands from the minister that God wanted us all to give as much money to the church as possible, but no less that 10%. He insisted God would be most unhappy if we balked at the idea.

I balked.

Turns out, there is a big difference between tithing and giving. Giving from the heart is voluntary* and joy-filled. Ask yourself, on what do I place a high value? What brings me great joy? Share in those areas. Examples: your children, animals, education, health, global events, hunger, etc. Even your church, if you're being spiritually nourished and not being made to feel guilty about not giving a certain amount. When you feel obliged to give, it’s more like a tax than a gift. Decide in your mind to turn your heart into a giver.

How to know you’re making progress:

  • You get joy and satisfaction from the giving itself and are not so concerned with how it’s received. “Cast your bread upon the waters. . .” Jesus
  • You begin to feel strengthened by your generosity.
  • You become more aware of how others have been adding value to your life and your appreciation increases. (You may even apologize for having been so clueless!)
  • You become more deeply sensitized to the needs of the world.
  • You look for ways to add value for the sheer joy of it.
The Rewards: No need to list them here. You’ll know them when you experience them…and you’ll be both surprised and gladdened! (Note: Giving always begets receiving. It's the LAW.)

*The great teacher Jesus always spoke of giving freely. He did not insist on Abrahamic law-based tithing. In fact, he almost always criticized those who tithed while overlooking the more important elements of the law such as caring for the poor and the infirm. He valued true charity far above giving a percentage of one’s profit to the temple coffers.

“Give what you have. To someone, it may be 
better than you dare to think.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow