Generosity of spirit

Photo by Ksenia Makagonova

I came across a great quote this morning from this booklet I’ve been following through Advent (you can get it here for free if you’re into that sort of thing)…

Riches are not from abundance of worldly goods, but from a contented mind.

— Unknown

[By the way, I don’t know about these quotes that are attributed as ‘unknown’. I mean, did whoever shared the quote make it up and just not want to quote themselves? But then again, in today’s Instaselfie culture, no one seems to have a problem with unabashedly quoting themselves. Anyhow, I digress…]

Yes, I love this ‘quote’. It’s easy to think we don’t have enough (I think it’s always been this way, but especially in today’s social materialistic culture out West).

We don’t have enough productivity systems in place like that popular entrepreneur we follow who juggles multiple ventures with a prolific YouTube channel, a three-book deal in the works, a busy family life, an impressive Crossfit regimen, and a morning routine that would make Tony Robbins weep.

We don’t have enough money like the neighbors down the street or across town who seem to have a sturdy financial cushion intact and who are consistently taking family whirlwind vacations to exotic, far-off places on a whim.

We don’t have enough relationship savvy like that famous couple on Instagram (sponsored by The Knot, Dwell, Allbirds, and Real Simple Magazine, of course) who lives in a cabin in the Berkshires and boasts shot after shot of the perfect embrace amidst fallen leaves, misty fog, and impeccably groomed labradors running around in the background.

I could go on about all the ways the world makes us feel that we don’t have enough. And during the Christmas season, this can really hurt. When life should be so happy and joyous and triumphant, it’s easy to have, what I call, a George Bailey moment and feel we haven’t achieved the self-ideal of our younger days (btw: that ‘ideal self’ is total bosh and we’ll never reach that moving target — just saying).

But this unattributed quote irons out my internal kinks regarding what I have and don’t have. Generosity doesn’t just mean having enough financial wealth so that I can give material gifts (though, a very human part of me really wishes it did). That’s just the form. Humans don’t really care about the form (though we think we do), we care about the spirit behind the form.

Allow me to add my own shameless self-quote here (I won’t even pretend like it’s not authored by me — though I’m for sure not the only one to say it, in essence)…

A profound generous spirit comes from knowing its fullness and completeness in God, not just through the giving of external gifts.

I don’t want to hang out with the one at the holiday party who may bring all the gifts in the world but who carries a tightwad, elitist spirit. I’d rather hang out with the retiree on a fixed income who only brought stale fruitcake, but who carries an open, welcoming, generous spirit in how she engages with the world. The one who knows her wholeness in God and who leans forward when you talk, giving her full self to you in spirit and attention.

Sure, giving gifts is nice. But it’s spiritual generosity — the spirit behind the form — that so many of us yearn for at a human level. This generosity pours forth from a contented mind. It comes largely from being good with where we are right now, even if it doesn’t seem to match up to our ego ideal.

This generosity is a gift that’s freely given (and freely able to be passed on) if we just accept it.

Amen.

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