Rev. Rachael Gallagher

Generosity toward others is a spiritual asset—one that can contribute to community-building and one that can help us to connect with a higher power. Some might even maintain that it is impossible to build a sense of belonging and community without some form of generosity practice.

An illustration is the South African view of community referred to as “Ubuntu,” which is usually translated as, “I am because of who we are.” Retired Archbishop and social rights activist Desmond Tutu believes that Ubuntu is the very essence of what it is to be human: “You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality—Ubuntu—you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.”

A Time To Share

With the December holidays—Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa—most of us are pulled in several seemingly contradictory directions: The materialism inherent in buying and giving gifts, and the generosity of spirit evidenced by an increased attitude of goodwill toward oneself and others. But, just beneath the surface, each of these holidays is really about compassion and generosity. The Buddhist holiday, Bodhi Day is about praising the principles of kindness, compassion and wisdom – the three main features of the Buddhist teachings.

Regardless of religious and cultural leanings, this is the season for family and friends. This is the season to be generous. We take time in December to share our best wishes for a happy holiday season and our gratitude for all that we have received throughout the year.

For many however, the holidays are an especially difficult time. From those without a home, to those without food on the table, to families with little means to exchange gifts, to those who have lost a loved one, the holidays may not be as bright as ours. 

Be Generous With Your Time And Talents

Generosity is a cornerstone of the holiday season. So, we hope you will take the time to be generous in someone’s life. Remember that generosity is not about what you can receive in return and it is about more than just tangible items. Donating your time, energy and talents are just as helpful, and often more meaningful. And doing so without concern for how we will benefit can be extremely powerful.

The opportunities for generosity are all around us. Generosity can bring you and your family and friends closer together. Here are some simple ideas to consider:

For JKV residents, make hand-crafted cards and deliver them to our Elders in The Woodlands, Seaside Cove and Gardens West.

Bake some extra batches of your holiday desserts and share them with a local emergency shelter like Broward Partnership Pompano Beach Center.

Go through your bathroom cabinets and find those unopened treasures like hand creams, soaps, lotions and makeup, and pass them onto a local women’s shelter like Women in Distress.

These steps for practicing generosity are just a starting point and giving generously is never a requirement, but it can turn even the most stressful of holidays into a time of joy and gratitude.

Happy Holidays from all of us at John Knox Village.

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