Granny grew up in the Depression. Abundance wasn't common in her childhood and though, in time, her life became abundant, she still held onto the lessons learned during difficult times. I've mentioned before how she puts water in the bottom of a ketchup bottle to get every last bit out. She does the same with her life as with the ketchup, you see. She gets every last bit of joy out of life that is possible. How does she do that? Through generosity. Generosity with her kind words, generosity with her belongings, generosity with her time, her efforts, the products of her labor... She gives it all away and lives an abundant life because of it.
Her rose garden is the perfect example.
My grandfather once wrote an article about Granny called "This Lady Fixes It Up." Each place they lived along the journey of their life together, my granny would "fix up." Perhaps the most beautiful example of her "fixing" is her rose garden. Each spring, her roses come into incredible bloom. Most recently, she gave many of the flowers away for a friend's special event. She wears the roses in her hair, shares them with the church, sends them to her friends and uses their beauty to cultivate joy among those surrounding her.
She doesn't just share her roses. I'll never forget a story my mother told me the other day. When talking with my granny about a family piano I've requested, Granny told my mother, "what Carol wants, Carol gets. I believe if she wanted my hair that I'd start pulling."
Don't take this statement the wrong way- I am not a selfish person and Granny knows that. She and my parents have raised me to be both humble and self-sufficient. Perhaps that is why Granny is so generous with me- because I truly don't (and wouldn't) ask for much. But the thing is, she said if I wanted her hair, she'd start pulling. That is some unconditional, unbelievable, remarkable and incredible love. That is generosity. And she is like that with everyone she knows and everything she has. Giving of herself and expecting nothing in return.
Cook With B. Filled to the brim with no-refined-sugar-added cookies to help me get through Lent.
Brigitt shared not only the cookies with me, but also the time she took to get my address, send the package, and write the note. She shared with me a portion of her disposable income by sending the package to me. She gave to me thoughtfulness and the wonderful feeling that comes along with the knowledge that someone is thinking of you. The package was much more generous than simply its contents. (Though the contents were awesome too!)
Between Granny, Brigitt, and countless others who have given generously to me lately, I started thinking... what have I done for others recently? What have I given generously to my friends and family? The answers needn't be tangible things- generosity comes in many forms: time, love, patience, being a good listener, thoughtfulness, compassion and more. It may be something that the person you are giving to never even knows they receive.
Do you make generosity a part of your life?
"A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor." Proverbs 22:9
"Giving with glad and generous hearts has a way of routing out the tough old miser within us. Even the poor need to know that they can give. Just the very act of letting go of money, or some other treasure, does something within us. It destroys the demon greed." -Richard J. Foster
"It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Of Possible Interest:
The Science of Generosity -- University of Notre Dame
TED Talk: The Generosity Experiment -- Sasha Dichter
Why Generosity is Good for You -- Psych Alive