Live the giving life
I have one particular homeless Bristol friend with whom I visit every Christmastime. Always I visit him in the same hidden alleyway in Bristol. Always he requests that I visit him on the 18th of December. Always at 6:00 of the evening. Always he hands me a $100 bill. Always he tells me pretty much the same thing: “Ben, I never got to have children. But I feel like I do when I hand this to you so you can pass on joy to them when you play Santa.”
My friend loves to drink … if you know what I mean. How hard it must be for him to save that much money each year for children - and not be tempted to use it for other purposes; drink, food, whatever his needs and wants may be. Yet, he gives.
When I think of the giving spirit of my homeless friend, I also cannot help but think of another Bristol friend, one who happened to possess great material wealth. (His is a name that might be easily recognizable to many local readers, no doubt, but I shall keep him anonymous here. This brief passage does not do his life justice. He did a lot of good things - and the words I am sharing here do not fairly summarize his entire life.) This friend was giving some thought to donating several hundred acres to a local charity upon his death. I spent some time with him one day, encouraging his more altruistic thoughts, when he suddenly looked at me and said, “Ben, I didn’t get to be a millionaire by giving stuff away. People should work for what they get. Like I did. I’m keeping that land.” Now, he lies dead. The land lies there, too. I’m not sure, but maybe he somehow thought he could take it with him.
To live a giving life, we need to possess neither money nor material things.
On the contrary, there are other things … things that we all can give, regardless of our economic status in this world; things that are far more meaningful and lasting.
Perhaps the greatest things I’ve ever seen given are time, love … and forgiveness.
The following is perhaps my favorite story of “giving forgiveness” that I’ve ever seen in action.