On giving

(this time I have a bit of commentary at the end)

Khalil Gibran  from the book The Prophet:

Then said a rich man, “Speak to us of Giving.”

And he answered:

You give but little when you give of your possessions.

It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.

For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?

And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to the overprudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city?

And what is fear of need but need itself?

Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, thirst that is unquenchable?

There are those who give little of the much which they have – and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.

And there are those who have little and give it all.

These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.

There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.

And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism.

And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue;

They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space.

Though the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth.

It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding;

And to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving

And is there aught you would withhold?

All you have shall some day be given;

Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors’.

You often say, “I would give, but only to the deserving.”

The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.

They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.

Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights is worthy of all else from you.

And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.

And what desert greater shall there be than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving?

And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you may see their worth naked and their pride unabashed?

See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving.

For in truth it is life that gives unto life – while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.

And you receivers – and you are all receivers – assume no weight of gratitude, lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives. (emphasis mine)

Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings;

For to be overmindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity who has the free-hearted earth for mother, and God for father.

The part I emphasize spoke to me today because a gifted healer who happens to be one of my best friends mother is helping me now. I felt moved to call her one day out of the blue. I’ve known her for about 15 years through her son. I’ve always felt a connection with her but our contact has always been fairly superficially social.

The other day while in a bit of a crisis I called her knowing about the healing work she does. I was basically looking for a referral. Instead she reached out to me like a mother I’d never had, kind and gentle and understanding. She is working with me now. She is giving to me. I am humbled. I stammered to her how grateful I was and she told me, no, don’t be this is her work and her purpose she was pursuing. I was confused. Should I not be grateful? But here in Kahlil Gibran’s poem it’s stated why one not be inappropriately grateful. It would, of course, be a mistake to take this woman for granted, but to receive with a full heart may very well mean leaving gratitude at the door.

I’d never thought of that. She is doing what she feels called to do. She is being. That is beautiful.

I will instead “rise together with the giver on her gifts as on wings,” and give back to others as I can.


2 thoughts on “On giving

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  1. The prophet is one of my favourite books. When I was a nun ,a lifetime ago!!it was my book for meditation. I liked it better than the bible!!

    I was fortunate to bump into a monument to Kahil Gibran by accident in Boston over a year ago. His outlook on life is extraordinary and I am still learning from him today.

    Thanks, Gianna, for sharing his thoughts with us.

    To second, Grainne, what a better world we would have if we could replace ‘medication’ with meditation. While money is the driving force it seems unlikely!!

  2. That is absolutely beautiful and I would like to thank you. I’d been able to work for the first time in almost a decade, so I was able to start financially contributing to Cricket.

    I crashed some weeks back, so have had to stop working, eventually having to ask Cricket for money again. It is an awful feeling, which if I succumb to, will only hold me down longer.

    I have spent time working on the house, now that I am a bit better. Cricket has made sure to thank me! The woman who is paying the bills, the mortgage, as well as supporting me!

    Some who read this blog may think that Cricket and I are a couple. We are not. We have just both been blessed by our twenty year friendship to each other, one that has taught us both much about ourselves, each other and our world.

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