Feeling Generous in A Needy World

by Robin Mitzcavitch, Director of Religious Exploration

There is a lot asked of us, isn’t there? Work hard, spend quality time with your loved ones, stay mindful and organized, be adventurous, pay for continual rising costs to live, try the recipe on Instagram, stay in shape, volunteer, educate yourself and others, and take care of those who suffer.

I have begun to host a small group at the church called Kindred Conversations. It’s been quite lovely to gather and discuss some of our Soul Matters monthly topics.This month’s theme is generosity. I was attracted to the opening introduction for leaders of the small group, it read:

“It would be easy to see this as a month of niceness. After all, for many, the call of generosity is equated with the call to be kind………………..First of all, it’s transformative. Generosity doesn’t just brighten our days; it changes how we relate to life……………..It also connects. Deep down we know the difference between giving and giving generously………..But make no mistake, generosity doesn’t stop there, at care and connection. It also challenges. True generosity doesn’t just ask us to care for people, it also asks us to call them out.”

I was startled by the idea that I could think of generosity as calling someone out, challenging one to think of something in a different light, questioning the intent and purpose of generosity.  I knew that the person I’d be first to challenge is myself. I think of myself as generous, heck, I work at a church, and generosity is what we do here! But this opening introduction for our small group discussion topic stopped me and made me want to ask some big questions of myself and about my intentions. This isn’t always a comfortable thing to do.  

Who do I want to care for? Why do I work hard? Why am I striving to accomplish certain things? Why does social media cause anxiety? Why do I feel bad when I don’t want to cook dinner?  When am I generous to myself?

So, as we contemplate these wonderings together, it feels right to know the good questions to ask. It also feels satisfying to understand how others relate to this “bouncy” topic. I appreciate the  shared words and vulnerability when folks speak about something that hits a nerve somewhere inside of them. That, I believe is my truest definition of generosity, the sharing of something true within yourself, even if it feels too close to the nerve. It’s the difference between giving and giving generously. And when I challenge myself to identify things that are uncomfortable to talk about, I realize that it’s a gift of growth that I’m bestowing upon myself.

Here are some of the questions we are exploring this month in Kindred Conversations. I wanted to share them, since this morning group can’t fit everyone’s time availability, but the questions can!

                                               Generosity Questions:

How has your definition of generosity changed since you were younger?

How has your enjoyment of generosity changed since you were younger?

Who taught you the most about being a generous person?

What’s been your greatest act of generosity?

What’s been your hardest act of generosity?

Have you ever wished your parent(s) had been more generous in some way?

How easy is it for you to receive the generosity or help of others?

Some say that attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity. Tell me about a time when someone’s gift of attention came to you when you needed it most?

French author Andre Gide wrote, “All you are unable to give possesses you.” Has that ever been true for you?

How good are you at being generous with yourself?

Kindred Conversations meets biweekly on Wednesdays from 10:30-noon most months in the lounge. Our next gathering is on November 15th. Bring your coffee or tea and a snack if you desire. It’s a casual and friendly environment.