Let’s Talk About Generosity

We went for a wander around Barnes & Nobles Bookstore earlier this afternoon and I spent an extended time browsing the magazine/periodical section. While browsing, I located a publication a friend of mine was looking for – the Nov/Dec 2016 issue of Poet & Writers magazine.  Upon returning home I decided to flip through this magazine before setting it aside to give to my friend.

On page 25 I discovered a feature called “The Time Is Now: Writing Prompts and Exercises“. This section had writing prompts for Poetry, Fiction and Nonfiction.

The “Nonfiction” prompt was “A Great Act of Generosity” and it encouraged the reader to “write a personal essay about a time when you have been the giver or receiver of a great act of generosity.” This was proceeded be a discussion on how the holiday season is often associated with generosity and giving.

I am not going to share a whole personal essay on an act of generosity but I do want to share how today I was overwhelmed with a feeling, let’s say “from the Universe”, that I needed to be generous:

After leaving our extended browsing through Barnes & Nobles bookstore, Terry the Quilting Husband suggested that we have lunch at our local Whole Foods Market as a treat.  Whole Foods was packed with Sunday shoppers and Sunday diners in the food court section. We grabbed a couple slices of pizza and searched for an open place to sit. The only available seating was a shared table with a homeless-looking man sitting at one end.

I started to hesitate and find another place to sit, but I thought “no, we need to sit here”. We sat at one end and the homeless-looking gentleman, who appeared to have all his worldly possession stuffed into an very old and falling apart backpack, sat at the other end of the table.

But he did not appear to be just sitting, he appeared to be cowering at the other end and was eating from a small can of beans. He was up against a window and he appeared to be trying to making himself appear to be as small as possible and a feeling a great sadness was emanating from him. Around us tables of other shoppers were chatting and laughing as they enjoyed their Whole Foods culinary delights. 

I tried to ignore the homeless-looking gentleman at first, I wanted to just eat my pizza and leave as quickly as possible. His sadness was palpable and ruining in my mind my good feelings from my recent fun browsing at the bookstore. Then I was overcome with a feeling that I needed to be generous and give this man some money. It was a very strong feeling as if I could not even leave Whole Foods without showing this man some generosity. (Usually we do not give money directly to homeless individuals but we donate to locate homeless shelters so that we know that the money is used for food and lodging and not “recreational uses”.)

So upon finishing my pizza, I stood up, gave the gentleman sitting in the corner $10 and wished him “Happy Holidays” and that I hoped he could get something else to eat beside the beans.  He looked at me in complete surprise, and then the most incredible smile came upon his face. It was one of those smiles that emanates from someone’s soul – what I call a “deep smile”. It was as if I had given him $1000. 

As we left the store and went to our car, we had to pass by the window in which he was sitting and I turned to see him profusely waving to me through the window, still with that huge and “deep smile” on his face. 

To me it was only $10, but I suspect to him it was a lot more.

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Photo credit: Juddson Vance, freeimages.com

Thank you for reading my about my experience with generosity today.

I now invite you to share a brief story if you like of an experience where you were a giver or receiver of an act of generosity.

You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. ― John Bunyan


Postscript

I wanted to share a quick follow up to the recent posts Terry the Quilting Husband – Update and What’s on the Design…Bed.

We finished both quilt tops and they are now with the long-arm quilter! Next time I post on them, it will be to show you the finished quilts. Yay! (The feeling of actually finishing something is so wonderful, ha!)

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13 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Generosity

  1. Janet Storton says:

    I have never seen generosity as great as I have with a group of women I am blessed to call my Sisters in a rural village in Uganda. For nine years they take the money I make selling their quilts, table runners, and market bags to help other women of the village they tell me are needier than they are. They live in small mud homes with grass or metal roofs, pounded dirt floors, grow the food they eat, wash all their family clothes in water they carry home from a stream…yet they tell me they are not the needy ones. I continue to write the stories of the women or children we find that need help in a crisis with the money I put into their foundation account. Stay tuned… it will be my next book! Thank you for your story of listening to your heart and helping a poor soul like the ladies of “Sisters of the Heart” in Uganda.

    Liked by 2 people

    • tierneycreates says:

      Oh my goodness Janet, what a wonderful share! That is very humbling and people with so little are usually the ones who give so generously. And speaking of generosity – the work you do in Uganda is a a beautiful example and embodiment of that word!

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  2. marthaginn says:

    We all need to listen to that voice that prompts us to be generous. It’s tempting to wonder if the person really is in need or is good at drawing sympathy. But, as a former pastor once said, “If we don’t get taken once in a while, we’re not trying hard enough.” Thanks for this reminder to share our bounty.
    And congratulations on getting the quilt tops finished!

    Liked by 3 people

    • tierneycreates says:

      Thanks Martha and thanks for your thoughtful comments. I like what that pastor said. We should not spend our lives worrying all the time about getting “taken” and let that stop us from being generous 🙂

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  3. Melanie McNeil says:

    Just this evening I told friends about being on the receiving end of a generous gift. More than 30 years ago I needed $200 so I could go to school the next semester. That’s how much I was short, and not having it meant I couldn’t go. I asked both of my parents and neither was in a position to lend me that much money. Ultimately I asked my grandmother for a loan. I did not grow up with her, did not know her well, and we were not close. But I knew she had money and I needed some. So I asked. I received a letter back with a check. The check said $1… I was so upset. I couldn’t understand why she didn’t get it — without TWO hundred dollars, I couldn’t go to school. $100 was not enough. I looked at the check again. It was for a thousand dollars. $1000. Not $100. She said in the note it was a gift, not a loan, and she was sorry I’d had to ask, that she hadn’t thought to help.

    I can only hope I told her how much that meant to me.

    Thank you for helping the gentleman at lunch. Occasionally I have opportunity to do something like that. More rarely I actually do. As you, we try to give generously, as well as volunteering. But sometimes that is not enough. It’s like giving $100 when really $200 is needed.

    Liked by 2 people

    • tierneycreates says:

      I loved your story Melanie! Your story reminds me of when I was 19 years old and in nursing school and received “the ketchup scholarship”. I went to a small Catholic nursing school run primarily by nuns. I was putting myself through school and working full time as a home health aide at night and going to school during the day (who knows when I was sleeping). I was very thin (and likely malnourished). The Dean, Sister Lauren Fitzgerald was concerned about me and ask how I was doing. I joked that all I could basically afford to eat was free ketchup packets but I was getting by just eating the minimum. She got me an emergency $500 scholarship to help me get through the rest of the semester and be able to eat better! I will never forget that kindness.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Michele Visagie says:

    My story is actually from when I (and you!) lived in Seattle. I used to walk to the QFC grocery near the Seattle Center on my lunch hour, get a salad from their salad bar, then take it to the fountain and sit on the bench and eat outside. One day I did that and a rather strange looking man came up to my bench. He sat, not on the other end, but in the middle, a little too close for my comfort. But we were in a public place so I “stood” my ground. I eventually could see that the man was not doing well mentally, although probably harmless. And he wasn’t as clean as he should be, but he was trying. And I think he was very, very hungry. And I realized that he needed that salad more than I did and probably didn’t get much in the way of fresh veggies. I didn’t want to insult him by asking him if he wanted my salad which I had started eating. So instead, I just stood up, put the fork inside, closed the lid, and put it down on the bench and walked off. After I got a few yards away I looked back over my shoulder and he stopped, guiltily, fearful of being accused, because he had taken my salad and started eating it, just as I had hoped. I kept walking, happy that I had given him something healthy when he needed it. I also routinely now will buy food when I see homeless people on the corners. My son and I buy the extra thick thermal winter socks and keep them in the car to hand out to homeless people in the winter. Just this recent election day I invited a man into the restaurant I was eating in and told the waiter to get him anything he wanted besides alcohol and put it on my tab. But the one that always sticks with me is the salad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tierneycreates says:

      Oh Michele, that is a wonderful share, thank you! I know you to have a generous heart and that story does not surprise me. That is very awesome that you keep those warm socks on hand and your recent invite to a homeless man to have what he wanted to eat in a restaurant! I love how you set a great example for your young son 🙂

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  5. kelleysdiy says:

    It is so wonderful….one good gesture may create a ‘pays it forward effect’. I notice whenever I let another driver go before me, or someone in a line…they are so thankful…such a small gesture..but I believe everyone we touch with our hearts will bring happiness to us.

    Liked by 1 person

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