practicing the art of generosity

In this weekend of delivering $200 supermarket vouchers out in the east of the city Anne and I have been remembering times when we have been the recipients of the generosity of others.
One time, in Dunedin, when Anne was studying and we had very little extra cash, we had planned a post-Christmas camping trip with the kids and were really struggling to make it all work financially.
We had managed to book for and pay the fees for accommodation, and had squirreled away petrol vouchers to make the trip, but with Christmas and all (the challenge of living in a part of the world where Christmas and holidays all come at once!), we couldn’t see how we would manage to get enough food.  we had a bit but not enough.
One day, just before we were due to head off, a hand-delivered envelope was found in our letterbox – a supermarket voucher for $200!  It was an absolute lifeline for us. It enabled us a worry-free holiday. It could not have come at a better time.
It was also a mystery gift – we still don’t know who gave it to us.  The interesting thing was that we were sure that we had not conveyed to anyone that we were struggling.  We are people of faith and we like to believe that there was a ‘hand’ in all that took place.  Daily in our lives we see the hand of God’s generosity – gifts that are given in uncalculated and unconditional ways.  We figure that whoever gave the $200 to us operated on the same principle we do – namely, much has been given, you do likewise.
On many occasions since then we have tried to pay it forward, not because we have to, but because we want to.  We believe that it is a way of helping the world go around a little easier.
We spend $200 on things very regularly – that is a part of basic living – we do it all the time and quickly forget what we spent it on.  But when we give $200 or some other amount of money away to help someone’s life go more smoothly for a time we also are recipients – not so much recipients of their thanks, because we usually give money away under the radar.  The mystery is far more pleasurable than doing it in the open and we feel more comfortable that our motivations are more pure in that the recipients are free of feeling obligated to make some sort of ‘payback’ to us.  We figure that people are more likely to pay forward than pay back if we keep ourselves in the background.
It has been neat to be part of a super $200 thing this week.

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