Thursday, December 24, 2009

Charity Begins at Home

It might be well-worn cliché but as I poked my last 45 cents into a Good Samaritans collection tin recently I suddenly realised a personal measure of joy I’d not noticed in a while. There was something in the smile of the person collecting my measly sum that made the transaction special.

And as I walked into the shopping mall I continued to be intrigued by this moment’s interaction—there was something mysteriously spiritual about it.

I thought about this transaction of love—a thing of so much more worth than every charity dollar, though perhaps not as tangible.

I find that when I pass up the chance to be kind and generous I often walk away loathing myself—at a deeper than conscious level. This then sort of contributes to my ‘miserability quotient.’ Yet, when I instinctively feel generous and give all I have it brings this spiritual magic into my heart, certainly as gauged by my interaction with the Good Samaritans collector.

Then, later, I reflected again. There was something that I’d missed in my initial reflecting over this earlier moment. As I hurriedly shoved those 45 cents (in five and ten cent pieces) into the tin, one of those five cent pieces dropped at the collector’s feet. We both instinctively bent down to grab the errant coin, but the collector let me get it. I actually felt even more generous for having saved him from the effort bending down himself. And he, as a result, seemed doubly grateful.

This very little event had a big impact on me. It helped me realise that charity does indeed begin at home, with our neighbours and friends, as well as our family.

“Home,” after all, is a place amongst everyone we live with. We have a much broader familial context. It’s beyond choice. Our home—charity-wise—is planet earth. And any act of giving cuts it, and especially when we give to those who’re truly grateful.

© 2009 S. J. Wickham.

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