Tag Archives: generosity

Year of Self Compassion #31 #scarcity

Having an experience of scarcity seems like an indulgent first world problem to me and yet I go tripping down that rabbit warren more than I have for a long time. Having downsized my life in most ways in the last year, not all at my own hand, I often catch myself wanting.  I recall my economics classes where the lesson that resources are finite, and an insatiable appetite for growth featured regularly.  This economic equation keeps revisiting me at so many levels, practical, spiritual, meta physical.  I want more – one last conversation, one last kiss, one last meal. I want less – one less speeding fine, one less demand, one less choice.

The invitation to simplicity is one giant mathematical computation of complexity that results in an overwhelming sense of a sum zero game that I never asked to play.  This see-saw of being grateful for what I have and feeling a paucity of intimacy is quite exhausting. The ups and downs of the see-saw are grief on her ride through me and the interior landscapes I traverse. Many of these lands are new to me, and some I keep revisiting looking for meaning and magic to unlock and hold memories, hoping the voyage of this Dawn Treader will come to shore soon to rest and find me in a safe habour.   I know I am in a safe habour all the time and I do have enough of all that I need. Yet …

There are triggers all around that sneak up and remind me of scarcity. I see couples making plans for a life together and I want to warn them how it will all end. I hear the dog barking next door, wearing himself out waiting for his family to come home and his loneliness grows and then dissipates giving up just before they arrive. I feel the ash, and am infused with the smell of the fire from the broken limbs fallen from the wild winds the night before, that I have made into a little hearth in the back yard, and I think about the differences between being buried and cremated. (How does carbon get stored and released?) That leads me to think about land, the scarcity of it, my carbon footprint, the legacy I leave by all my actions. This is not living abundantly, my scarcity lens is keeping me from fullness and it refuses to leave me and contributing to a feeling of self-indulgence.

Theologians and economists have always found abundance and scarcity a point of difference. I think the root of the challenge to get this balance right, lies somewhere in gratitude, generosity and hope. Being generous is a sign of abundance, my biggest currency has always been time and now I realise how finite time is and I am making more choices with me at the middle of the equation, again a new landscape and one where I am yet to master. Being grateful is a practice and I am trying to be agnostic about what I am grateful for, everything can be appreciated and received with kindness. This practice seems to be woven with respect and recognition, actually being able to notice the gift however unseemly wrapped it comes to me. Hope offers potential to shape what will come next and to be an actor in that future without letting the scarcity filter, is a daily exercise in my inner life gym.

In this year of self-compassion, I am struggling to replace scarcity with abundance which has been my default for so long. Privileges I took for granted or worse, hadn’t even noticed I had. These privileges are now inviting me to pivot, flipping abundance for  scarcity, There are invitations waiting for me to find the wealth within, the freedom of less and joy of simplicity.  I will try not to shame myself too much for defining this feeling of scarcity as a first world problem, as it is teaching me to be more mindful, more conscious of my consumption of all kinds of things from air time to fossil fuels. To be more gentle on myself and grateful for all the times I have been generous and how that disposition is one of the key reasons for the depth of the wound. After all something that is scarce is also rare and therefore usually incredibly precious and perhaps that is the clue to the relationship between abundance and scarcity – the rare space that one creates for the other.

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Photo by Sam Soffes on Unsplash

Promises to tomorrow #39 #befriending self

I am getting lessons on how to be my own best friend by noticing what my friends are gifting me and accepting those gifts with the love and gratitude of a receiver. The love transaction in friendship is transformative.

My friends are creating a nest for me at this time, little pieces of straws and sticks broken and re-arranged for me to fit, shiny foil reflecting light to ward off evil, catching feathers to enable a soft landing for me to rest in, keeping enough space to hold the structure together with a light touch. My friends are familial, close by, far away. They are in real time and virtual. They are known and unknown to me. Being blessed with friends and knowing the sinews and muscles of friendship that have been exercised and strengthened over time tells me who I belong to and who belongs to me. There is recognition in love, even love unrequited is recognised. My inability to return right now perhaps is a falsehood, for it is in the receiving of the unconditional that the gift is given. My practice now is to receive.

A Friendship Blessing

May you be blessed with good friends.
May you learn to be a good friend to yourself.
May you be able to journey to that place in your soul where
there is great love, warmth, feeling, and forgiveness.
May this change you.
May it transfigure that which is negative, distant, or cold in you.
May you be brought in to the real passion, kinship, and affinity of belonging.
May you treasure your friends.
May you be good to them and may you be there for them;
may they bring you all the blessing, challenges, truth,
and light that you need for your journey.
May you never be isolated.
May you always be in the gentle nest of belonging with your anam ċara.

John O’Donohue: Anam Cara

My anam cara – my soul friend – is making his way to soon be turning towards the light. It is a journey that refuses to be hurried and stubbornly almost defiantly won’t turn down the paths even though the signposts are calling. This is marathon vigil. Pheidippides ran from Athens to Sparta was made to alert readiness for battle and so there is some of me that thinks the final message while in the process of being sent, is not yet delivered. My anam cara still teaching me about friendship, forgiveness, integration, identity in the few hours of wakefulness he has each day. You might also think of anam cara as friend to your soul – and in doing that – you too could be your own anam cara. This is the love and friendship you have where there is no pretence and all the illusions have faded and fallen away.

My promise to tomorrow is to make more time to nurture the friendship with myself. How might I bring the knowledge and experience of anam cara to the mirror? There are magical healing powers in forgiving others and yourself and surely that is what takes friendship to a new stage each time, more transformational than transactional.

Anne Lamont says: In the course of the years a close friendship will always reveal the shadow in the other as much as ourselves, to remain friends we must know the other and their difficulties and even their sins and encourage the best in them, not through critique but through addressing the better part of them, the leading creative edge of their incarnation, thus subtly discouraging what makes them smaller, less generous, less of themselves.

Generosity is an ethic of abundance and is the fuel for friendship. So thank you to all those who are being generous with me and patient and kind and inviting me to be a better friend to myself.

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anam cara

Generosity

Dear Sor Juana,

Generosity is beautiful. Sharing what you have in abundance may be easy, and sharing what little you might have perhaps more challenging – in either circumstances the gift, freely given reveals whole-heartedness. I have seen so much generosity this past week and in each case it has flowed from a rich vein of being part of something bigger than the giver or receiver. Going so far beyond charity or courtesy to almost regal magnanimity, these acts of generosity have touched me deeply and I have been blessed as witness to these actions. The gifts have all been priceless, without a price on the market and unable to be purchased. They have been wrapped up love and a demonstration of the commitment of the giver to the receiver. They hold promise and are a sign of harvest. I am caught in the glow of the acts of generosity and through no efforts of my own, get to bask in some of the reflected light. So different to being in the shadow of stinginess and meanness that has a way of dragging you down with it, generosity lifts you up and fills spaces beyond itself.

I have seen generosity with my own eyes; it is good, humble and wise. Meanness though is more like pride in disguise, wanting to mark its territory and transacting relationships with malevolence. I yearn for more generosity in our world, unlocking what we have to share with others and tapping into our humanity, for there is enough for all of us to have a fair share of the bounty of our planet. There is enough love to go around as that astonishing emotion amplifies the more it is given away.

When I see meanness of spirit I am repulsed and want to turn away, yet there are days when I am looking at train wreck, unable to avert my eyes from the meanness and getting dragged down into the mud because of it. I need to look up and look around to see all the generosity in abundance and turn away from the scarcity world view draining the way we live as a nation.

I was excited to learn this week one of the new whizz bang apps designed by young hackers was an app for homeless people and those with a spare room to find each other – a sort of underground Air BnB. I am in wonder and awe of the creativity (given freely as a volunteer) and the joy in other people’s willingness to share. Just like the publican in the famous story of a mother giving birth to a son in a stable there is always room for Generosity to be born.

A scarcity mentality and approach is ugly. Sharing is all about giving away knowledge, information, ideas, smiles, hugs, time, skills, money, spare spaces. Living generously brings an intimacy and knowing of our deep connectedness. By releasing what we have in abundance or even just a little of, opens us up to new possibilities and being witness to that opens me up a little more too.

Is it time to take down the “No Room at the Inn” sign and put out the welcome mat in your heart?

Living Generously

Living Generously