Charitable Giving

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I positioned my cold feet in the warm sunlight, determined to sit until the embers in the stove or the chickadees outside the window convinced me that anything matters. So far, it hasn’t worked. I’m in a wicked post-holiday mood. I just threw out three beautifully-rising loaves of bread after discovering that flax can indeed go rancid, and this is not good for you. I’d taken a little taste of the dough. It was unusually bitter, which led to the research, which led to the painful placement of the loaves in the compost bucket. I hate that things go rancid.

I want everything to stay whole and healthy, even in large quantities. I often cloak my hoarding tendencies under colorful claims of creativity and eventuality. But I know the truth about me. I’m a mixture of pioneer ancestors and an excessive culture. Like God, I see potential redemption in even the worst of the worst, and try to make use of everything. I hate letting go.

The chickadees are gone. Wild turkeys are pacing the perimeter of the garden, calculating whether flying over the tall fence will result in enough nourishment to justify the energy expenditure. They don’t know about the rancid flax-laden dough about to appear. This may sway their decision. I trust their digestive systems can make use of rancid flax, or they’ll know enough to turn up their pointy beaks and strut away.

“And you?” God says gently, speaking from deep within the pile of nearly-rotten wood I’m trying to burn up.

I pause to think of myself as a calculating turkey, pacing the outer edge of Eden. “No idea,” I answer. That kind of wisdom is a distant memory in the oldest part of my aging brain. But what I do know is that a great, rancid toxicity is blanketing the earth from massive accumulations of wealth. And I don’t know how to shake it off. Even as I scorn the greed of those who have too much, I wonder how I can get a little more. I hate this about myself.

I try my usual cure. “Give until it hurts, you selfish hypocrite,” I say in a nearby mirror.

God rushes toward me like a grandmother saving a child from a coiled rattlesnake.

“No!” she shouts, waving her arms. “No. Stop it. That kind of talk doesn’t help anyone.”

I jump back, startled. She throws a blanket over the mirror.

“Take a beer and sit among your possessions,” she says sternly. “Be in your body. Be in my body. Open your soul. And notice where it hurts, darling. Then, gently, give. But give until it heals. That’s all. Give until it heals.”

This is a complete impossibility. But that’s one of the things I like about God. She often pairs the impossible with dark beer.

 

11 thoughts on “Charitable Giving

  1. Thank you for this, Rita. This holiday season I have felt so bowed under the weight of consumerism. I have not been able to give as much as I’d like for the last few years because of cancer bills, but this reminder to give until it heals…just what I needed. Thank you.

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  2. Hey Molly, thank you for taking time to check in–it is such a quandary to know how to give, where, when, and to not demand certain outcomes….matters of the heart. Sorry about cancer bills, too. Had a few of those myself. Peace, Rita

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  3. Here’s a big, deep, warm yes, Rita. Thank you. I’m going to share this with my pastor friends, who mostly have mixed feelings, at best, about “stewardship season.” Most of stewardship theology IMHO is bunk. This is golden.

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  4. My response this year to charitable giving has been to take the advice of Jesus about “not letting your right hand know what your left hand does”…just giving in response to each request that comes along–and so many do!–without calculating. Your thoughts , Rita on rancid flax seed and wild turkeys and chickadees, and burning away rotten wood from the bottom of the wood pile…the whole experience of reading your short visit with an honest god made me smile—always a good thing to be able to do when one is feeling the weight of excess and rottenness. Yes, let’s experience giving as a way of sharing healing. Thank you.

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