Generosity

Henri J.M. Nouwen opens his marvelous little book on prayer, With Open Hands, telling a story of an elderly woman who had collapsed in her apartment. When the EMTs arrived to treat her, and eventually transport her to the hospital, they noticed she was clutching something in her hand so tightly they couldn’t pry it open. At the hospital the staff was able to open her hand. She was clutching a coin, as if it were the last and most important of her possessions that would save her.

It was an appropriate story to discuss prayer as opening our hands (and hearts) to God.

Is it a metaphor for the way we live? For our orientation to life?

Many (most? all?) Gen X and Millennial generation look at our Boomer generation and that would be what they think. How would I know? In my professional work those are the generations I interact with often. I listen. I observe. (After all, I’m true to my Enneagram 5 part.) My generation is seen as a generation all about themselves.

Of course, that is not 100% true.

But it is worth pausing to consider—just what is my stance toward generosity?

The next time I come into some “extra” money, what is my first impulse? More important, what is my reflection on my first impulse?

Will I help someone with some or all of that money? Will I satisfy a desire of my own with that money? Build up someone, or build up my own ego?

The existentialists of the 20th century and old-fashioned Baptists had one thing in common that is true for all of us, in all times, in all situations—we decide what we will do, we decide how we will react, we decide in life-changing situations.

What is your decision (and mine) toward opening our hands and hearts with generosity?

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