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Spirituality Essay:

Giving    ( December 2009 )

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As November reacquaints us with the importance of gratitude, December can inspire us to deepening our connections to the great beauty and joy of giving.

Holiday giving, though, is often a mine field, easily capable of producing as many negative feelings and experiences as positive ones.

Giving is hard enough on its own. But because the calendar rolls to December 25, we must now, once again, try to come up with that perfect gift (what don't they have that I can thrill them with?) for all our loved ones and perhaps too many others..turning the inherent sweet pleasure of giving into an anxiety-ridden crush of obligations and pressures, making-do's and disappointments. Add in the financial drain and the ugly bombardment of commercials pushing the materialism of our culture, and our giving spirit gets sorely challenged. No wonder Christmas has become such a mixed bag for most of us.

How can we rise to that wonderful spirit and beauty of true, meaningful giving? It's certainly hard, given the sheer weight of the holiday.but we can make inroads.

Remembering that giving is, at its core, nothing more than a tangible expression of our love can help us refocus our energy away from the item and back to our relationship. How well do I love this person?...how can I best show them my feelings?

In our closest, most loving relationships, our giving flows from a place so deep and pure we feel a glow in us that nothing else in life seems to match. We give so naturally and freely: their happiness is all that matters; our helping to make that happen feels so profoundly good and right. We don't want or need anything in return - even appreciation.

If we can let that feeling - the joy we feel from our selflessly wanting them to be happy - be a model for our gifts to the others on our list, we're much more likely to find a gift that connects our goodness and abundance with their well-being.

Cultivating a desire and ability to give more freely from our heart - and more connectedly - can well become one of our most beautiful spiritual practices.

Often, just what that gift should be continues to remain elusive. Three ideas given me that I just love when nothing feels right: 1) tickets to a play or concert they'd enjoy; 2) a personal service you provide (like washing/waxing their car or cleaning their house); and 3) making a donation in their name to a cause or charity they care for and actively support.

This is one in a series of essays on spirituality by Rick Childs, lay leader of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Mendocino Coast. You may want to:
Read more Spirituality Essays
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Read more about the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Mendocino Coast.

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