June 5 When Giving is All We Have

This Monday Jenny will facilitate.  She shares:


As the end of a challenging teaching year draws to a close, I find myself considering what giving really means, and why it is that we feel called to give. I also find myself thinking about individual students I've taught this year, and what giving has meant for them, whether words, actions, or offering presence.


This year, I had a student come in at the very beginning of the year feeling as if no one gave to her. She felt that because no one gave to her, she should not have to give to others. She felt angry with her circumstances. She felt in pain. Sometimes, she loudly expressed this. Other times, her body was very still and her voice quiet. One day, a couple months back, there was a moment where she was called to give. For some reason which will only ever be known or understood by her, it felt necessary in that moment to give to someone else, and she made the choice to do so. She called upon the generosity we all have living inside of us, and she gave what was needed, to and for someone else. I can't say that she changed drastically overnight. I can't tell you that from that moment forth, she gave, every moment, every single time. But she did learn, in that experience, that sometimes giving is both all we have, and that it can be enough. She learned that something she had to offer was of use to someone else, and through that realization, she came to understand that others just might have something to give to her. She learned to open her heart, in small doses, in sometimes careful measurements, in often earned skepticism, but began to open nonetheless. My greatest hope for her is that her heart will never close again, to the often bewildering and uncharted world around her.


I tell this story to urge us to think about the idea of giving. Not about the automaticity of it, not about the "shoulds" it can often feel surrounded by, but perhaps about why we feel called to give, or even what can feel hard about it. In these rather charged times for our country, when our interconnected lives are feeling rather unknown and even frightening, I find myself considering that giving may indeed be all that we have.


When we come together on Monday evening, after our quiet sit and our walking meditation, I'd love to read the poem by Alberto Rios together, consider the idea of "giving" and what it means for us as individuals and as a broader community.


Poem: "When Giving Is All We Have" by Alberto Rios

One river gives its journey to the next.


We give because someone gave to us

We give because nobody gave to us


We give because giving has changed us.

We give because giving could have changed us.


We have been better for it,

We have been wounded by it-


Giving has many faces. It is loud and quiet,

Big, though small, diamond in wood-nails.


Its story is old, the plot worn and the pages too,

But we read this book, anyway, over and again:


Giving is, first and every time, hand to hand,

Mine to yours, yours to mine.


You gave me blue and I gave you yellow.

Together we are simple green. You gave me


What you did not have, and I gave you

What I had to give-together, we made


Something greater from the difference.