Approach life gently. Treat life kindly. Live life fully and with enthusiasm.
Respect life--always.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

It's Cosmic, Baby

Ken boxing up what is left.
In a cosmic collision of two axioms, I have found my own. “If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it is yours.” “Practice random acts of kindness.” Crash. Bang. Boom. “Set your love free through random acts of kindness.”

I have struggled with the setting what you love free thing since I first heard that saying as a teenager. One cousin was saying it to another at a family reunion. They were older and much wiser, eighteen, maybe even twenty. That age sounds so mature when you are the geeky younger cousin, left out of the adult conversations. I was struggling with puppy dog crushes and really didn’t understand love, as all it can encompass, at the tender young age of fourteen. I greedily wanted the affections of this boy or that. I really cannot remember who I was madly in love with at the time. It was probably the bad boy who sat in the back of English class, with his feet propped up on an empty seat, his sandy blonde hair all mussed up and hanging in his eyes. Oh, how I loved what could get me into trouble back then.

Hmm. Oh, sorry. I disappeared for awhile. But enough of the bygone daydreams of a teenage girl.

I have tried in the past to practice daily random acts of kindness, doing these little niceties anonymously as much as I could. That is a very steep asking for one person, making them daily. I failed miserably, and I felt that failure deeply, even though I had helped out many people in the process. My self-imposed sense of failure was only because I tried to build randomness into my to-do list. I discovered it is called random for a reason.

Lately, I’ve come to a new sense of philanthropy, without it really feeling like I am just giving hand-outs or just looking for another tax write-off. Instead of me searching for a need to fulfill, I relax. I let my heart do the leading, and then my hands complete the task. I pray for guidance. Compassionate giving cannot be forced. It must be allowed to bloom on its own. If it is something I love or cherish or covet that I am compelled to give, all the better. Then I know it is Jesus working miracles in my heart, for the joy I experience in the giving far outweighs any happiness I could gain from the keeping.

I can write a check to the Portland Rescue Mission whenever they send a request, but that, although generous and charitable, is not personal. I do write those checks, but actually serving meals or devoting my time and talents in some other way for the homeless would touch my heart even more. If I had it to give, I could bequest a million dollars to a worthy college, but it does not become real for me unless I read the winning scholarship letters myself. The joy, for me, is in the knowing, however briefly, the story of the recipients.

My acts are not so much anonymous now. That is not the important part, though I still do not need the public recognition to make me feel good about myself. In fact, recognition embarrasses me. It makes me feel uncomfortable. It cheapens what I have done, making it more of a human thing instead of the God-inspired act it really is. My recognition comes from knowing I helped an injured animal; seeing the sparkle in a little girl’s eyes; knowing that what I give is appreciated and will be put to good use; being allowed, even momentarily, into the lives, the stories, and the struggles of others, and knowing I can accomplish something good for them.

I have made a decision about our yard sale leftovers. My darling husband is letting me divide up the mess as I see fit, instead of just hauling it all away to the Salvation Army or Goodwill. Each of those two major charities has gotten its fair share today. My main mission this week is to make sure the little guy doesn’t get left out. A young man visited our yard sale a few weeks ago and made an appeal on behalf of his Haitian charity. Five large boxes of clothes, housewares, and bedding will go to his cause. I have been chatting on line with a desperately poor young woman who has recently lost a lot of weight. She hadn’t a thing to wear, until I gave her two bags of the clothing I had had for sale. The Portland Rescue Mission, one of my favorite charities, will get seven boxes of men’s clothing, coats, hats, and bedding. In this way, I spread my joy around. Ken, who will do just about anything to please me, gladly boxed the items as I directed. He really isn’t the toughie he pretends to be. My honey is a big teddy bear.

Now that the sales and donations are done for this year, maybe next I will work on world peace.

Oh, please.

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