One of the road trips I took while in college was to Falls Church, Virginia. I was visiting some new friends that I had made there the previous summer. The weather still permitted swimming and we took advantage of someone’s swimming pool. Good friends, good times, good vibes.
Until I jumped off the diving board and landed, ear first, into the foot of someone kicking against the water. I immediately felt the pain, lost a bit of hearing in my left ear, and knew that something was wrong. My friend and road trip partner took me to the emergency room where they offered drops of medicine and recommended rest. Our plans were kept to leave for home that afternoon.
We took the trip home as planned. We (he) drove the eight hours. And somehow, we found ourselves, 1 hour out of our hometown, in need. No gas, no money, and no way to get home. It was late and we were hesitant to call our family and asked for their help. My eardrum was perforated and causing my body pain. Enter the mystery man.
He overheard us asking the attendant if we might mail payment at a later date. He seemed interested, but he also seemed distant. I do not remember one thing about his appearance, but I remember his spirit. There was nothing about his approach, but there was something about his advice given after he paid for a few gallons of gas.
Just like everyone that has conned anyone out of “gas money”, we said we would mail him the money. Just like every sad story ever told, we were “just a few miles from home”. He heard our predicament, helped, but did not offer his address. What he proposed was different.
“Give it to the next guy.”
Of course, this was before the “Random Acts of Kindness” movement. This was also before “Pay It Forward” became a buzz word. This farmer, in rural East Tennessee, knew all of this before Hollywood or some internet influence made it cool. Thanks to my being in need, and his being able to offer help, I learned the lesson.
Here are a few thoughts about the notion of being asked to give and our response.
Who Receives the Blessing?
We need to understand the transaction. If we are asked to give, there is a blessing for those that receive. This is a minor blessing… usually of some material item that will disappear soon. The blessing, the real blessing, is bestowed to the giver. This blessing is not given by God, but the one who asks for a thing to be given.
What To Do With the Blessing?
After we have offered thanks to the one that asks, and we have decided to give an offering, how shall we handle the burden? Yes, it is a burden, because now we feel, somehow more than what we were, the moment before. We feel we have helped. That we have given what was ours. It is good to keep our stories of giving tucked in our vault of secrets with the Creator. It is best to place them there and forget they ever existed at all.
What Might Be Our Reward?
In the words of Sonny and Cher, “you got me… babe.”
Some say treasures in heaven, while some say good karma. Some say a feeling that you participated in the creation of another’s universe. Honestly, I do not know. None of those things seem that exciting to me anyway. I do not believe it is some cosmic bank account, saved in heaven or spent on earth, and we create the universe with each thought, anyway. But who am I to say what reward the universe will dispense for such actions.
What is true, is that it feels better to be a giver to me personally.
Where Does It Come From?
Nothing we give was ever ours. Everything we have to give was given. We truly are sharing, and are entrusted with, the riches of the universe. Until we understand this, my saying that the blessings are not what is offered, will make little, if any, sense. Your life will tell you where it comes from, your heart can be trusted to understand what credit goes where.
Playing the Game.
Here are the rules.
- You will receive more, you always have.
- You will be offered chances to give things away, you choose which chances to take.
- Not everyone in need will be able to be helped (by you), and not everyone that cries out can be heard (by you).
- Help is not always in the form of money, but money is often used to exchange energy.
- This is the most important rule. There are no penalties for not playing the game, but you will want to play the game. Enjoy it and act like the owner. You may not have created the universe, but you created your role in the universe. You may not have created all of the wealth in the universe, but you have been given the opportunity to help manage all of the wealth in the universe.
Welcome to the dance, girls and guys. You are the hope of the world. Is it just a game?
Really… it is. We are here but for a brief time. In the words of another hero, Bob Dylan, “even the president of the United States, sometimes, must stand naked.”
What about that guy who told me to give it to the next guy? I am almost certain he is dead by now. I am certain also that I am not the only person who would have been affected by the life of such a man. And this is the hope that we all have. That somehow, in a gas station, in the middle of nowhere, we might affect the lives of others. that will affect the lives others… often without our knowing.
I play this game a little. I am not a pro. You may find that you are a rock star already. We are all learning, and my suspicion is that the great ones may not even know there is a game at all. Also, I suspect that the ones coming up in the world now, will master this game completely.
You are one big heaping mess of love, kindness, grace, mercy, and forgiveness… and even abundance, offer these things first. Be careful of the illusions others try to throw your way. Stay strong, but be on the look out for kindness. Start with what you know. Love is all there is.