Giving and Getting

By Jim Selman | Bio


We’re in the middle of the holiday season and, from all reports, we’re buying a lot less ‘stuff’. Yet from where I am sitting, it looks like there is a lot more ‘giving’. I see and hear about more ‘charity’—from giving some paper money to the homeless man we pass everyday to my father’s adopting an out-of-work mother and three children who are members of his church community. A lot of people seem to be generally nicer to each other, which is a wonderful gift anytime.

I suppose you can attribute this kind of mood-shift to the increasingly tough times and say it is just an anomaly of people pulling together in a crisis. On the other hand, however, consider that all this “economic meltdown” news and conversation may be just symptomatic of something much deeper and profound. I think this is the ‘wake up call’ that reminds us how interconnected we all are and that none of us is going to ‘make it through’ this economic storm alone.

We’ve all been so numbed by the mass marketing machinery of our times that we forgot a lot of the simple things—everything from basic etiquette to stopping to listen to each other and recover the foundations of relationship between family, friends, lovers and community. I don’t know if it is the political transformation that seems to be underway, climate change or the economic upheaval that is stressing millions of lives, but whatever the impetus, we are in the midst of massive changes at multiple levels of consciousness—from resolving questions of who we are as individuals to creating an awareness of the world as one very large (or small, depending upon your point of view) socio-economic ecosystem.

However we see it, we all have one thing in common: the opportunity to make of these times whatever we will and hopefully to mold a better and more compassionate and caring world.

Most of the people I know and have ever worked with care about people and are more or less generous in their willingness and even commitments to giving and making contributions to others, whether small or large. But many of these same people become awkward or even closed when it comes to receiving gifts and contributions from others. But if we aren’t open to receiving, then most of our giving doesn’t matter. A number of years ago I learned that sometimes the greatest gift we can give is a willingness to receive from others.

This season, a lot of the giving is or will be symbolic or non-material. What a great chance to look beyond the gift to experience the love of the giver and express our gratitude for who the other people are for us in our lives. Whether this season is a religious celebration for you or just a family tradition,  it is an ancient time that reminds us of our deeper natures and the larger mysteries of existence.

Let’s use this time for giving AND getting the unlimited love which we have available to us and which, at the end of the day, is what makes life worth living.

© 2008 Jim Selman. All rights reserved.

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