A State of Spirit

I used to think that generosity was a money thing, that you had to have
‘enough’ money to be able to give it away. Like all those foundations that
sponsor the PBS shows I watch. This was, of course, before I realized
how much some people wanted to hang on to their money, even if it looked
to me as if they had enough.

Over time I learned that generosity is more a state of spirit rather than of
finance. I came to understand that some of the best things given to or
shared with people were not material ones; gifts of time and attention have
substantial value. I certainly have been on the receiving end of that kind of
patience and consideration. It can occasionally take me a few moments to
verbalize my thoughts, more than a few moments if I’m being honest. Not
so very long ago, one of the members of my church asked me a question,
the answer to which required a little internal editing. They were patient
enough to wait for me to answer, didn’t ask any questions to prompt me or
start to fidget. Their patience gave me the opportunity to find my better
self. That was a nice gift from him.

When I rode the trains in Atlanta, I carried a few dollar coins in my pocket,
the ones that come out of the Marta machines as change. I knew I would
be approached by panhandlers on the train or in the station. My brother-in-
law would chide me for aiding and abetting what he was sure were their
bad habits, since that was his experience. (I did point out to him that I gave
away less money than he spent on cigarettes each week.) But really, it
was because I felt bad when I ignored a request for help that I could
answer. That small act was a gift I gave myself.

~Karen Smith

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3 Responses to A State of Spirit

  1. Peggy A says:

    Thank you for your insight on generosity. I, too, think I gain more pleasure from the acts of giving than the people or organizations to whom I donate, especially if it is a spontaneous gift to someone I know nothing about asking for help of some kind within the public arena.

  2. katrina P yurko says:

    Me Too ! Thank you Karen for the story of how you have come to define your generosity. It is a way of God, it’s a verb for God, it is that illusive act of conscience that has its own reflection in who we truly are, and its own rewards. I guess its one of those traits that needs practice to evolve in a way that brings us to our better self, no matter what anyone else thinks. It’s a shame when people simply dismiss homeless folks because of a preconceived belief that is grossly generalized. There is a Major societal problem in America that is called “Homeless”, and each person has a share of human dignity, rights, and hope for the future.

  3. Candice c Carver says:

    Thank you for this insight Karen.
    I spent about 6 months homeless in Austin in 2004, it was not something I am proud of. I was not an addict, I did not have a problem, we lost our home due to my family being laid off and unable to make our mortgage payment. After this experience I changed my view of homeless. After that in Austin and Charleston I’d carry care bags in my car if I ever saw a homeless person, these small bags had a pair of clean socks, a bottle of water, bag of chips and a fruit cup.
    I now tell people there is not a homeless crisis, there is a housing crisis since housing cost so much many people are homeless and just trying to survive. I know how it feels, I was lucky to only be out of a home for 6 months, there are people that have lived out of their cars for years if not most their life.

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