It amazes me how I never stop learning. When I was younger I thought by the time I was at least 40 years old, I would have this thing called life figured out. Now at the ripe ole age of 41, I have found, I am still a mere pupil.
I would love to tell you that I am a Generous person, who gives of herself freely….but that would be a falsehood.
I am terribly selfish, greedy, and lazy. All too often I concern myself with foolish things instead of seeking how I can give to others. Now, I am not saying I am not filled with compassion, because I am, but sometimes I am too lazy or self absorbed to act on those feelings of compassion.
Sadly I have fallen into the warped belief that the world is a dark and vile place and I need to shelter myself from the snares and traps it uses to lure me in. If someone does not look like me, act like me, smell like me, believe like me….well then… STRANGER DANGER!!!! It is best not to become involved…so I don’t.
Somewhere I got the idea that if I give… I lose…and losing is something I absolutely HATE to do.
I realize I have written quiet a lot about my journey I have been on the past 6 months as I hike my way across the Smoky Mountains. With each and every mile I have learned so much about nature, myself, and my fellow man. While I have learned many valuable life changing lessons, one of the most important has been, TAKE CARE OF YOUR FELLOW MAN.
When I first began my journey I was little leery of the people I would meet. I mean… have you ever really encountered serious hikers? They look and smell kinda bad (I can totally say that because I am one now.), and sometimes they are even mistaken for homeless people.
I had in my mind these were granola eating hippies who had no interest in any real job or making vital life decisions. It did not take me long to realize nothing could have been further from the truth.
On my very first solo hike, I struggled greatly. The climb was steep, I was incredibly lonely, and I wanted to quit. Pretty soon a wide range of fellow hikers came to my rescue. There were snacks shared, instant hiking buddies, and a LOTS of cheering me on. None of these people knew me, but they were totally willing to give their supplies, time, and all important food to a wimpy little hiking newbie.
As my status as hiker continued to increase, I started meeting more and more of these people. We would find ourselves at the same junction to take a break and rest our weary bodies. Each time conversations were started (usually about food because hikers are ALWAYS hungry), and stories were shared. I learned that most of these strangers were professionals who loved being outside just as much as I did. Some were on spiritual journeys, some to get into shape, and some were adventure junkies.
There have been times when I have seen hikers give away their last few swallows of valuable water to someone who needed it more then them. I have watched as someone has hiked 5 miles out of their way to ensure another hiker gets off the trail safe. And I have seen a hiker who is already carrying their own 30lb pack, strap on a strangers pack as well so the climb will be easier.
Before long I realized I was doing this stuff… me…who NEVER thinks of others. Suddenly I am running down trails to get someone help. I am sharing what little food I have, and I am offering rides to fellow strangers from one trail head to another.
We are all in this life together. In order for us to succeed and to be the best us we can be…we need each other. I always thought being generous would somehow take away from me, but being out on the trail I have learned exactly what Anne Frank meant when she said,
“No one has ever become poor by giving”
By giving of what I cherish, whether it be possessions, money, food, or time, my heart gets just a little bit fuller, and I walk away a whole lot richer. How sweet it is, to be the reason someone smiles.
These lessons were learned out in the wilderness, but they spill out into my everyday life as well. I have found myself donating time and resources to people and places I would have never done 6 months ago. I have learned not to judge others, help always even if it is just a smile or kind word, and NEVER expect anything in return. The joy in knowing you were there to help is way more then payment enough.
Friends we need more generosity in our world. Times are scary and there is so much hatred, bitterness, and evil. Let’s chose to be a light…..a beacon of hope instead of a dark patch. You don’t have to be rich to give abundantly. You only need to be willing.