Friday's Inspiration Weekly
Sacred Splendor

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Generosity lies less in giving much than in giving at the right moment.
Piety practiced in solitude, like the flower that blooms in the desert, may give its fragrance to the winds of heaven, and delight those unbodied spirits that survey the works of God and the actions of men; but it bestows no assistance upon earthly beings, and however free from taints of impurity, yet wants the sacred splendor of beneficence.
This season of giving can be physically, emotionally and financially taxing.
What will help me to learn to give in healthy ways, without overburdening myself??

Entrée: Roadblocks to Giving by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
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Giving isn’t always easy. For every reason to give, there are just as many reasons not to. Most of these reasons are fear-based. For instance, John wants to go visit the elderly in the hospice, but he’s afraid it will be too hard on him to see their pain. Susie wants to give money to her struggling sister, but she’s afraid she doesn’t have enough money for her own family. Joaquin wants to help teach a child to read, but he’s afraid he doesn’t have enough time to himself as it is. How can anyone deal with another person’s problems when his own needs aren’t being met?

Another fear is that our skills are inadequate for helping another. For instance, you may know a family whose home was destroyed in a mudslide, but you’re afraid to go help them rebuild their home because you don’t know anything about construction. Plus, you rationalize, the Red Cross will do it. Give yourself a chance! Professionals have no monopoly on compassion. And even if it’s true that there is nothing you can do, you can always just be with a person. Sometimes the most important thing you can give is your time, your presence and your willingness to listen.

Perhaps the deepest fear that keeps us from giving is that we, too, could be homeless, hungry, sick or deserted. Of course we could! And it is that same acknowledgment of our vulnerability that allows us to be compassionate and make genuine connections with other people. In Verlie Hutchens’ story about a food pantry, the volunteer includes an African violet with the bag of canned goods because when she puts herself on the other side of the charity fence, she realizes that women who come to the shelter must be starved not only for food, but for beauty, too. To be charitable is to lose our self-defensiveness and open ourselves to being equals with others.

About the author:

Spirited and savvy, poet Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer is a catalyst for self-discovery, helping people tap into their talents. Her ability to entertain, share information and inspire people springs from her career as a poet teaching and performing for thousands of people around the country. Rosemerry writes for Natural Home, Herb Companion, Mountain Living and other magazines. She volunteers in the local high school mentorship program and works on boards for the Sparrows Performance Poetry Festival and the Ah Haa School for the Arts. The above is excerpted from Charity: True Stories of Giving and Receiving (2001, Red Rock Press).

Main Course: Living a Life of Significance by David DeFord
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Not long ago I heard about a study performed on death-bed conversations. The study noted that the two most frequently discussed subjects at the end of one’s life were:

  1. Relationships; and
  2. Contributions made in one’s life
While we remain in pursuit of many worthwhile personal endeavors, we must always remember to acknowledge and nurture those around us. Those who need nurturing may be our family or our co-workers; but they may also be those in the community at-large.

I have found in my own life, and observed in the life of others that we can attract abundance by serving others. The biblical adage, "We reap what we sow" lives on. We live fulfilled lives, not by seeking treasure or pleasure for ourselves, but by turning our desires and efforts outward. By so doing, we put ourselves in the position to deserve success.

Many of us live what I call a "TV existence." Rather than giving back to the community, and making life for others better, those living the "TV existence" live their lives as passive spectators, always seeking rest and comfort.

How can we fight our way out of such lives? Start keeping a journal. Leave a legacy to your children of an account of your life. If you record your activities, you will tend to lift yourself off of the sofa and accomplish more meaningful works. No one wants to record in their daily journal, "Today I watched the following sit-coms."

Find a need and seek to fill it. Look for opportunities to make a contribution to the good of others. On a Monday not long ago, as I took my lunchtime walk around a nearby lake, I noticed a great deal of trash left by the weekend recreationalists. I fumed in my mind for ten minutes or so, and then decided I should do something positive. The next day, Tuesday, as I walked, I brought along a trash bag and a stick with a nail on the end for picking up trash. I was able to get my exercise, and at the same time, pick up a few pounds of trash. My walks on Wednesday and Thursday filled me with warmth and gladness at seeing the results of my simple labor.

Continue giving money, but begin giving time. Financial Contributions are praise-worthy, but the joy of writing a check cannot be compared to that comes from hugging a cancer patient or feeding the homeless. When we give our time, the feeling of generosity lasts much longer.

Involve your whole family and others A good experience shared is a greater one. When united in a good cause, our relationships become richer. Many years ago I managed several programmers developing software to be used by nursing home personnel. They had developed that "ivory tower" attitude that the users were idiots, and they were the superiors. There was also terrible job dissatisfaction and turnover in the department. I had to find a way to help them feel a greater purpose in their labors. I began taking them to some of the nursing homes, and had them volunteer. Not once in their visits did they watch their software being used. Instead, they helped with activities, gave manicures, and served food. Almost immediately, the tone of the department changed. They viewed their work more as a purposeful calling than as a difficult labor. They gained an admiration for the workers who used their products. And they began working more as a team. The sense of meaning and unified purpose changed everything.

The same effect can result when we involve our families in serving others. Who needs your help? Keep your eyes and ears open - opportunities to serve surround us. We just need to become aware. Read your local newspaper and the newsletters from your schools. It’s not hard to find people or agencies that need helpers.

Nursing homes always need visitors and volunteers. The elderly who live at home need yard work, snow removal and home repairs. Youth need athletic coaches, scout leaders, and vocational trainers. Health associations need people to help in the office, stuff envelopes, and many other tasks.

Check your yellow pages for social agencies and service clubs. Do something right away. I have heard people say that they will first make their fortune, then perform some grand and exotic service to mankind. But I have found that we can do more good by doing many little things throughout our lives - day after day. Samuel Johnson said, "He who waits to do a great deal of good at once, will never do anything."

Find a worthy cause, and thrust your heart into it. Your community will benefit greatly - and so will you.

About the author:

David DeFord is the owner of Ordinary People Can Win, a personal development company dedicated to helping ordinary people achieve extraordinary success in all areas of their lives. Go to to learn more!

Second Helping:  The Armani Samaritan by Judy Malloy
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I was on the subway platform waiting for the N train. And waiting. It was one of those unbearably hot and humid New York summer afternoons. I'm sweaty. I'm not happy. All I can think about is being late for my audition and how much I hate New York in August.

I noticed a crowd starting to gather around one of the benches on the platform. I moved to join the circle of onlookers and am instantly accosted by a familiar smell: the scent of homeless New York. It's a smell that reeks of reality: no bed, no toilet, no shower. It's a smell that's most often greeted by people like me with an air of guilty indifference.

As I got closer, I can see the man I've already smelled. He is small, his round shoulders sloping under a tattered brown coat. His gray hair and beard are matted with dirt. There are no shoes on his blistered feet, and his gnarled hands are covered with sores and dirt. The strange part was the Gucci briefcase lying next to the old man's naked, dirty feet.

I shift my focus just a little and notice the man in the Armani suit sitting there, his arms around the little homeless man's shoulders. The man in the Armani suit seemed not to notice the crowd, the smell, the dirt; he was focused on his own hands, gently massaging the other man's shoulders.

The little man suddenly cried out, as if in pain. His fingers began to uncurl from the fists he has held tightly to his chest.

"I'm sorry, sir," the businessman said. "Did I hurt you?"

"No," the little old man mutters. "No, it's just been so long since anyone has touched me."

I took in a deep breath. The smell of the subway vanished. In its place was only the sweetness of human kindness and the grace of one soul who dared to touch another.

About the author:

The above article as related by Judy Malloy, published in Beliefnet © 2004. Beliefnet is a multi-faith e-community designed to help you meet your own religious and spiritual needs - in an interesting, captivating and engaging way.

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