One of my life goals is to live generously. It’s a favorite phrase of mine and one that I sometimes repeat, mantra-like, in the car or in line for the metal detector at the airport or similar other locations where it’s easy to lose your cool…like the DMV for instance. What I hope though is that it will become such a part of my thinking, so completely ingrained into my very character, that it will no longer be necessary to put it on a repeat cycle in my brain.
It turns out, much to my surprise, I had some trouble explaining it when Cathy asked what I meant. So I’ve been thinking about it and trying to figure out a way to elaborate that helps others see my heart. And then it turns out that (once again) Henri Nouwen has already done that very thing. Here’s what I meant to say…
…We choose love by taking small steps of love every time there is an opportunity. A smile, a handshake, a word of encouragement, a phone call, a card, an embrace, a kind greeting, a gesture of support, a moment of attention, a helping hand, a present, a financial contribution, a visit–all these are little steps toward love.
What I call generosity, he calls love. Yep. That’s what I meant to say. Every time I have the choice to interact with grace or generosity or love, I want that to be my default. Every time I have the opportunity to be short-tempered, ill-mannered, snarky, rude or even indifferent, I want instead to be gracious and loving, to live out a generosity of spirit.
I know this will continue to be part of my inner-dialogue and I’m sure it will come up again in my ponderings. In the meantime, feel free to chime in. How do you nurture a generous spirit?
(From Bread for the Journey by Henri J. M. Nouwen, June 15)