Witness to Generosity



“A generous person will prosper, whoever refreshes others will be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25).

Several days ago as I sat with my daughter in the family room, I was taken by surprise by a question she asked during our conversation. The conversation centered on our Aunt Jean, my mother-in-law’s younger sister who died recently. My mother-in-law and Aunt Jean were not only sisters but best friends and confidants. Lynn asked if I remembered how every Tuesday both Elsie and Jean would spend the entire day with their mom and Uncle Red, their oldest brother. They would clean, do laundry and do all the cooking for the week to come. They would end their day by hosting all their siblings for a shared meal. Lynn asked if I thought this practice was out of the ordinary and wondered if I thought other families shared similar practices of caring for each other in similar ways.

I told her that I didn’t find it odd at all and in my experience, it was a common practice for families and neighbors to care for each other in this way and many others. The conversation quickly reminded me of all those in my life who were examples to me of this generosity of the heart and how privileged I feel to have been witness to something extraordinary in the ordinary happenings of everyday life.

When I was young, mom shared stories of how her parents took in two neighbor boys whose mom had abandoned them and raised them as their own. They also took in my grandmother’s sister, her children and her husband who was struggling with alcoholism. They stayed two years till he reached sobriety. My aunts tell of how my mom and I lived with my grandparents while my mom helped grandma care for grandpa who was dying of bone cancer. Mom and dad lived apart for a year and a half until my grandpa’s death. If given the time and space I could fill pages and pages with stories of people whom I’ve encountered or stories that have been made known to me that tell of individuals who so unassumingly displayed this type of generosity to family, friends and strangers in a myriad of circumstances.

I believe this type of generosity is beyond just giving of material things, it is a giving of oneself and an acceptance of the other. This generosity is born of a place that is found deep within one’s being. It is a result of cultivating virtue and experiencing its manifestation as an attitude that is derived by knowing and accepting the generosity of God.

The beauty of a generous spirit is that it’s not depleted in the giving but instead is filled to full by the grace of God. And for those who witness or are recipients of this generosity are often moved to an act of gratitude that in turn blesses another.

Let us pray that we may emulate the Generosity of our Lord.

Prayer for Generosity by St. Ignatius of Loyola

Eternal Word, only begotten Son of God,

Teach me true generosity.

Teach me to serve as you deserve.

To give without counting the cost.

To fight heedless of wounds,

To labor without seeking rest,

To sacrifice myself without thought of any reward

Save the knowledge that I have done your will.