It began back in January: this nagging fascination with the magic of giving. It was when I was reading Ann Voskamp’s gold-mine of a book, The Broken Way. As I read of how Ann and her family traipsed around their town putting dollars in dollar stores for her birthday, I was at once curious and hopeful. I was aware by now that if the meaning of life was to do with getting everything you ever dreamed of, then I was lost, so when I read of how she transformed her thirst to cut herself into a thirst to ‘live given’, I realised I was parched too.
That curiosity and wonder resurfaced as my birthday approached and my family surprised me with a much longed for trip to Scotland and friends flooded me with presents. On my birthday itself, the doorbell rang and I opened it to find a delivery man bearing a large box addressed to me. With bubbling excitement, I unwrapped gift after gift from inside the box, ’30’ confetti spilling out all over the place. My friend Kate had outdone herself and the thoughtfulness and sheer generosity of the gift was humbling. Later, my parents took me out to one of my favourite places and that evening I arrived at the pub to find that my Grandparents had already got the wine on the table for us.
Every day this week I arrived home from work after long days to the delicious smells of dinner cooking, my husband Andrew giving his evening to making sure I was fed and cared for. Last week, my colleague bought everyone a gift bag of sweets and chocolate to cheer us all up. Yesterday, I received a letter from my brother, which was so beautifully composed and timely that it brought tears to my eyes. He also enclosed a copy of his favourite book.
I would like to think that generosity breeds generosity, that after all that I have received I would have become this radiant, unselfish giver. But I have come to the conclusion that often, the forming of a habit or a new way of living takes intention, time and focus. And what is Lent if not a time for intention, time and focus?
My goal is simple – to give something every day for the remainder of Lent. I have no doubt that this will bring me closer to God, who after all is our grace-bringer, the One who throws parties over us, covers us with a depth of love we can only begin to understand, holds us when we are wounded, walked this earth for us, cried and bled and conquered for us. He, after all, is the Author of giving.
Sacrifice takes a bit of adjusting to, and I’m sure there will be days when I’d rather keep my head down and focus on surviving the day instead of looking around for opportunities to give. I have experienced first-hand the magic of generosity, though, and I have the feeling that I won’t find myself untouched by it. Generosity seems to me to be a joyful way to live.