Love break like dawn across my heart. When I have grown shy and quiet, let me find the song that recalls me to my whole self, the laughter that grounds me once again and grows my heart strong and ready to give generously once more. Love steal upon me out of the shadowed places so that I must stop in awe and wonder, amazed anew by this day, the beauty of this life, the blessings that we turn away from and tune out, and the joy of turning once again back to you. Love, here is my heart, already yours; teach me in the day how to use it well and wisely, how to risk it faithfully and how to give all it may give. Amen.
Do you have expectations from the other when you help someone else? Are you expecting thanks, or particular ways of demonstrating gratitude? Are you seeking a return obligation? Learning to Give shares this Nupe wisdom tale, that asks us to consider what is the duty of gratitude and our relationship with other beings.
Often enough, we can go through our lives seeking most what others can do for us. Economies built on this way of life are extractive or exploitive. All that is valued is what you (or that tree, or this place, or that culture) can be of use to me.
Others of us go through our lives seeking an even deal, on exchanging goods. Economies built on this way of life value everything against everything else. Relative value matters enormously, because we’re always looking for equally beneficial relationships. Giving and receiving is power, and strict equality is sought so no one is more powerful than another, within limits. Extractive and exchange economies often mix together.
But in grace relationships, giving doesn’t have an expected response. We give because folks ask, because it is needed, because we have, at that moment, a cloak, two pennies, or a place to rest. We give from the fullness of life, from the joy of giving. And there is no expected response, no power to be gained or lost in the act of giving or the act of receiving. Interestingly enough, it is easier to be genuinely grateful when we’re not sweating what we owe others or what’s expected or how we might be taken advantage of. It is also easier to be generous.
What way of giving is easiest for you? of receiving? Which do you experience and practice the most? What expectations do you have for gratitude?