DIRECTIONS

A woman calls up her friend. She says, “Becky, l understand you got a new apartment.”

Becky says, “l do. I got a pretty apartment. Why don‘t you come visit?”

“I’d love to visit, but I don’t know where you live. You gotta give me directions.”

I live on I486 Eighty-sixth Street. You’ll take the train, get off at Eighty-sixth Street. You’ll see a big apartment complex, 1486. Outside. you’ll see a double door. With your right elbow, press down the handle from the door. push open the door, and you’ll be in what we call a vestibule.

“In the vestibule’s a list of bells. I’m apartment 4B. With the left elbow, press 4B; it’ll ring upstairs. As soon as I hear the ring, I’ll buzz you.

“When you hear the buzz, with your right elbow press on the inside of the door, push open the door, go straight ahead to the elevator, and with the left elbow press UP.

You’ll get in the elevator; with the right elbow press 4 for the fourth floor. The door will open up; you’ll go straight into my apartment. 4B.

“You’ll ring the doorbell with the right elbow. Give it a couple of knocks with the left elbow; I’ll answer the door. You’ll come in; we’ll have coffee.”

Her friend interrupts, fed up. “What kind of directions are these, with the elbow? The left elbow, the right elbow. What’s with the elbow?”

Becky says, “What? You’re coming empty-handed?”

Source: Sam Hoffman, Eric Spiegelman,
Old Jews Telling Jokes: 5,000 Years of Funny Bits and Not-So-Kosher Laughs,
(Villard, 2010) page 35

CONSIDER THIS

What if the real and most beautiful gift we can offer one another is that of Presence! Don’t we after all call a ‘gift’, a ‘present’?  What gift is it if I don’t make myself fully present in what I am giving?

ONE GIVES WHAT ONE HAS

Amanda was handed a beautifully wrapped gift box by her maid. To Amanda’s surprise the box contained a big piece of cow dung. The sender was a well known enemy of the family. In turn Amanda asked the maid to send her enemy a bouquet of a dozen, fresh long-stemmed roses.

The simple accompanying note read: “One gives what one has.”

Source | Inspired by a scene in a telenovela

CONSIDER THIS

A common Latin expression reads, “Nemo dat quod non habet,” which translates as “You cannot give what you do not have”.  I suppose the inverse is equally true: we can only give what we have in us to give.

What traits and characteristics are you planting, cultivating, nurturing and nourishing with consistency? Remember: what you cultivate within is the gift you have to offer.

BEING BLESSED BY GIVING

A monk had a brother living in the world who was poor, and so he supplied him with all he received from his work. But the more the monk supplied, the poorer the brother became. So the monk went to tell an old man about it. The old man said to him, “If you want my advice, do not give him anything more, but say to him, ‘Brother, when I had something I supplied you; now bring me what you get from your work.’ Take all he brings you, and whenever you see a stranger or a poor man, give him some of it, begging him to pray for him.”

The monk went away and did this. When his secular brother came, he spoke to him as the old man had said, and the brother went sadly away. The first day, taking some vegetables from his field, he brought them to the monk. The monk took them and gave them to the old men, begging them to pray for his brother, and after the blessing he returned home. In the same way, another time, the brother brought the monk some vegetables and three loaves, which he took, doing as on the first occasion, and having received the blessing he went away.

And the secular brother came a third time bringing many provisions, some bread, and fish. Seeing this, the monk was full of wonder, and he invited the poor so as to give them refreshment. Then he said to his brother, “Do you not need a little bread?” The other said to him, “No, for when I used to receive something from you, it was like fire coming into my house and burning it, but now that I receive nothing from you, God blesses me.”

Then the monk went to tell the old man all that had happened, and the old man said to him, “Do you not know that the work of the monk is of fire, and where it enters, it burns? It helps your brother more to do alms with what he reaps from his field, and to receive the prayers of the saints and thus to be blessed.”

Source | Sr. Benedicta Ward, The Wisdom of the Desert Fathers
(Oxford: SLG Press, 1986), pages 43-44

CONSIDER THIS

Blessings sometimes show up in unrecognizable disguises. One very common disguise is the art of giving generously and without counting the cost.

THE KING AND THE BEGGAR

As I went begging today from door to door they cried, “He is coming! He draws near!” And seeing the dust of your gorgeous chariot, I thought, “Who can this be but a king among kings?”

My hopes soared, and I stood waiting for alms to be given and wealth scattered in the dust. Your chariot stopped right before me, you looked down with a smile, and I knew that the luck of my days had come. Until suddenly you held out your palm and said, “What will you give?”

Begging from a beggar! What a kingly jest – I was confused and dismayed, but I groped in my sack until I brought out one grain of wheat, the tiniest thing I could afford.

I got home that night and emptied my sack on the floor, only to spy a grain of gold gleaming there in the heap. Then how bitterly I wept. If you did this for a tiny grain of wheat, what would you return if I had given you everything?

Source | Deepak ChopraThe Soul in Love: Classic Poems of Ecstasy and Exaltation
(Harmony, 2001) pages 102-103

CONSIDER THIS

How often are you the beggar in the story, reaching in for one kernel of corn, holding back, and giving much less than your all?

 

 

THE LITTLE NEW YEAR

One cold morning Maurice awoke from his dreams and sat up in bed and listened. He thought he heard a knock at his window; but though the moon was shining brightly, Jack Frost had been so busily at work that Maurice could not see through the thickly painted panes. So he crept sleepily out of bed, and opened the window, and whispered: “Who is there?”

“I am,” replied a tinkling voice. “I am the little New Year, ho! ho! And I’ve promised to bring a blessing to everyone. But I am such a little fellow I need somebody to help me distribute them. Won’t you please come out and help?”

“Oh, it’s so cold!” said Maurice; “I’d rather go back to my warm bed;”  and he shivered as Jack Frost, who was passing, tickled him under the chin with one of the frosty paint brushes.

“Never mind the cold,” urged the New Year; “please help me.”

So Maurice hurried into his clothes, and was soon out in the yard. There he found a rosy-cheeked boy a little smaller than himself, pulling a large cart which seemed to be loaded with good things. On one side of this cart was painted the word “Love,” and on the other “Kindness.” As soon as the New Year saw Maurice he said, “Now please take hold and help me pull;” and down the driveway and up the hill they traveled until they came to an old shanty.

“Here is where I make my first call,” said the New Year. Maurice looked wonderingly at him. “Why, nobody lives here but an old colored man who works for us; and he hasn’t any children!” “He needs my help,” said the New Year; “for grown people like to be thought of just as much as children do. You shovel out a path to his door, while I unload some of my blessings; and the little hands went busily at work, piling up warm clothing, wood, and a new year’s dinner, the New Year singing as he worked:—

“Oh, I am the little New Year; ho! ho!
Here I come tripping it over the snow,
Shaking my bells with a merry din;
So open your door and let me in.”

Old Joe, hearing some noise outside, came to the door, and when he saw all the nice gifts the tears ran down his cheeks for gladness; and as he carried them into the house, he whispered: “The dear Lord has been here to-night.”

“Where am we going now?” asked Maurice, as they ran down the hill. “To take some flowers to a poor sick girl,” answered the New Year.

Soon they came to a small white house, where the New Year stopped. “Why, Bessie, our sewing girl lives, here,” said Maurice. “I didn’t know she was sick.” “See,” said the New Year, “this window is open a little; let us throw this bunch of pinks into the room. They will please her when she wakes, and will make her happy for several days.”

Then they hurried to other places, leaving some blessing behind them.

“What a wonderful cart you have,” said Maurice; “though you have taken so much out, it never seems to get empty.” “You are right, Maurice, there is never any end to love and kindness. As long as I find people to love and be kind to, my cart is full of blessings for them; and it will never grow empty until I can no longer find people to help. If you will go with me every day and help me scatter my blessings, you will see how happy you will be all the long year.”

“A happy New Year!” called someone; and Maurice found himself in bed, and his sister standing in the doorway smiling at him. “Have you had a pleasant dream, dear?” she asked.

“Why, where is the little New Year?” said Maurice; “he was just here with me.”

“Come into Mamma’s room and see what he has brought you,” answered his sister. There in a snowy white cradle he found a tiny baby brother, the gift of the New Year. How happy Maurice was then! But he did not forget his dream. Old Joe and Bessie had their gifts, too, and Maurice tried so hard to be helpful that he made all his friends glad because the happy New Year had come.

Source | Ellen Robena Field,
Buttercup Gold and Other Stories (1894)

CONSIDER THIS

You are the Maurice in the story: how do you imagine yourself conspiring with each new dawn to make sure you will have something to give to those who cross your path today?

ARE YOU GOD?

With Christmas coming  grandma was out shopping for gifts for her grandchildren.  While she was at the toy store going through her list she noticed a small homeless girl outside wistfully looking into the store.  Grandma’s heart went out to this little girl.  She invited her into the store and asked her to pick out a gift for herself.  As they walked out of the store, the little girl held Grandma’s hand and looked into her kind eyes and asked “Are you God?” 

Grandma, somewhat embarrassed and somewhat touched said, “No, my dear, I am not God.” 

“Then who are you?”  continued the little girl.  Grandma thought for a moment and said, “I am a child of God.”  The little girl, fully satisfied and smiling, said, “I knew there was a connection!”

Source | Paul Coutinho, How Big is Your God?, page 1

PONDER AND CONSIDER

When people come into your life do they see a divine connection?

GIVING WHEN IT REALLY COUNTS

An eight-year-old boy had a younger sister who was dying of leukaemia, and he was told that without a blood transfusion she would die. His parents explained to him that his blood was probably compatible with hers, and if so, he could be the blood donor. They asked him if they could test his blood. He said sure. So they did and it was a good match. Then they asked if he would give his sister a pint of blood, that it could be her only chance of living. He said he would have to think about it overnight.

The next day he went to his parents and said he was willing to donate the blood. So they took him to the hospital where he was put on a gurney beside his six-year-old sister. Both of them were hooked up to IVs. A nurse withdrew a pint of blood from the boy, which was then put in the girl’s IV. The boy lay on his gurney in silence while the blood dripped into his sister, until the doctor came over to see how he was doing. Then the boy opened his eyes and asked, “How soon until I start to die?”

PONDER AND CONSIDER
  • We have to learn how to die before we die so that when we die we won’t die!
  • Dying is about giving, giving your life!  Rarely is one asked to give up his own life for someone else. Yet, we are invited daily to make decisions to love and forgive one another. This withholding of judgement, giving the benefit of the doubt, unconditional forgiveness are all part of the “dying before we die”.
  • Fullness of life is  about giving. Giving freely to the world, what has been given to us – to give. Giving with childlike innocence.