It happened several weeks ago but has happened before many times and chances are will happen again. A stranger, someone we don’t know and not sure we want to, approaches us and asks us for assistance. This last time it was at a gas station when a long, matted hair, holes in his shirt and pants man, with a gas can in his hand asked me to buy him some gas. I always feel vulnerable and suspicious when anything similar to this happens and try to take a look around without being obvious. I was almost finished filling my tank and told him to set his canister down and proceeded to give him enough to almost fill it. When I finished he said; “Thank you,” took the container and went back to where he and another person were sitting. I opened the front door, sat in the driver’s seat and told the story to Beth who had watched from inside our car.
It’s been a rule of mine for as long as I can remember to not ask or demand from someone what they will do with money, gas or whatever when I give it to them. I understand some people take advantage of others and use people’s generosity for nefarious purposes. I know others need genuine help. I also believe in serving angels unaware and there’s no doubt I can’t tell the difference between the three. When I give it is a letting go of the abundance I sometimes have and allow others to use it as they deem necessary.
Assisting another in need is often vague. However, giving to another isn’t about how they use the gift but having a heart that’s willing to help.
To be unselfish is the key to abundance. To not hold on to anything, desire anything, be covetous of anything or anyone. Abundance comes from being content and this comes from acceptance of all life brings our way.
Too often we see the lives of others or review our own lives and wish they would have turned out different brings suffering. These illusions only lead to pain and heartbreak. What we have received is only temporary. As hard as it is to accept this world only gives us transient treasures and trinkets. Whether it be people or things, our inability to control when and how they leave our lives is a lesson we need to learn.
Only eternal gifts last. When we are given them we may hold on to them as tightly as possible but to do this we must let go of what we hold dear that is not eternal. Transience is not evil. To love those who bring wonder, kindness, and love to our life is not wrong. However, it is a bittersweet connection because it is temporary. While this is painful to know and experience it also makes every moment more treasured.
Most of our lives are full of abundance but knowing they are not ours forever is the test of true life, true love, true wisdom.
Abundance & Assistance –
Beth and I spent most of the day putting a green tin roof on our porch extension. It looks great but we are exhausted!
Two short reflections from the last two days…
The first was the wonderful rain we had last night. A gorgeous, much-needed soaking rain. It was either ironic or sad but the rain started just as I had finished watering the flowers and the garden. A few drops hit my shoulder as I watered the Blue Spruces we have in the front yard and by the time I got to the front door it was coming down hard. At first there was irritation; “Couldn’t the rain had started 30 minutes before?” but this thought soon withered as I listened to the storm pound the roof, opened the door and watched the water drench the thirst of the grass and trees. Abundance was given to nature last night and I was not only a witness but a participant.
This morning, before tackling the roof on the porch, I made a list of needed materials and headed to the hardware store. Once there I collected and purchased the items, which included 10 sheets of heavy, 12 feet long, sheets of tin. They were cumbersome and difficult to load, carry and navigate the store aisles. When I wheeled the cart out to my truck I began to unload the sheets and put them in the back. It was a frustrating job. The sheets were heavy and got caught the wind, dragging me in a direction I didn’t want to go. The cart began to roll back and other vehicles were passing. At the exact time I needed the most help I caught a glimpse of a hardware store employee walking in my direction. Without a word he assisted me in doing a job I’m not sure I could’ve done myself. I was very thankful and told him so.
Two stories, related to each other in a couple of ways, helped remind me that abundance and assistance may arrive unexpectedly but sometimes their timing couldn’t be more perfect.
You get to the point where it has to be done though you’ve put it off as long as possible… cleaning out the refrigerator.
My wife and I try to be careful not to waste food. We attempt to fix meals in portion sizes for the two of us, freeze what we can, eat left overs for lunches, snacks, even another dinner if needed but sometimes there’s still too much. Containers of forgotten vegetables, misplaced meats, desserts behind milk cartons, add up to an overstuffed and messy fridge.
Finally, after one more item can’t be squeezed onto a shelf, balanced on top of a Tupperware holder, there’s no choice but to begin the dreaded chore. Some foods, covered with tin foil in a glass dish are easy to recognize, others in solid colored containers with lids are a wild guess until you look inside. It’s a bit like being Indiana Jones on an archeological adventure. Afterwards, the refrigerator is organized, clean and, regrettably, ready to start the whole process over again.
I on the other hand feel a great sense of guilt and shame because I know there’s people going hungry, scavenging in dumpsters for scraps, dying from malnutrition and we have so much we’re throwing it away. Sigh. We live in an unfair world.
Wisdom and grace teach us not to just feel empathy for those less fortunate. We are to do everything we can, give away all we can, and never stop trying to make this a more fair and just world. We’re also to be continuously thankful for the abundant blessings bestowed upon us who are not worthy.