Christmas can be seen as an opportunity to reflect on acts of giving and receiving, independent of our religious or cultural background. It is also a time in which we might search appropriate gifts for our loved ones, friends, colleagues, etc. When this search turns out to be difficult, a sense of frustration can arise together with a sincere question: What do we give someone who already seems to have everything? Acts of obligatory giving conflict with the precious practice of generosity. The pressure to find something to give, lessens the happiness which is inherent in any genuine act of generosity. Authentic generosity is a gift to the one who gives as much as to the one who receives. It invites us to celebrate the act of giving. It offers the opportunity to clearly acknowledge the kindness which emerges from the beauty of the hearts, where the generous intention has its origin. Generosity is a celebration of the beauty of human potential manifesting within our hearts! Such acts of giving manifest in two ways:
First in terms of material or financial support for those who actually need it. There are far too many people in the world who depend on compassion and careful support of others to build a life of physical safety and to cover at least their basic existential needs. May our generosity turn towards those beings.
The second reflection we are invited to, is to ask ourselves, what we would like to give those close to us. Maybe their basic needs are satisfied. Maybe they do not need more "stuff". The question then is: What does someone wish for who has no urgent material needs?
Well, reflect for yourself: What would make your days brighter? What would bring more ease, lightness, calm and rest to your life? Often the answer to these questions is not a "thing", but a quality, an attitude or a perspective like patience, care, kindness, deep listening, appreciation, forgiveness, compassion, etc. As such, they do not and cannot have a price tag. Nevertheless they are more adaptable and sustainable than any thing could ever be. As they need to be cultivated, they cannot be bought in any store. And the biggest surprise probably is, that turning these guiding principles into a gift immediately reflects back upon us: we ourselves benefit as much as others as the qualities radiate inwardly and outwardly, not making a difference between "me" and "you". May this season of giving "things" turn into a reflection of what is of deep value to ourselves, to our relationships and our communities. May we all feel safe, held in gentle care and find happiness in the beauty of our own hearts.