Yesterday was called Giving Tuesday, the day when many charities and non-profits asked for donations, just in time to cash in on the holiday spirit, apparently, when many people consider giving gifts.
We shouldn't need reminding, of course, and we shouldn't need a season for giving. Yet it does often take an effort; it's not easy to reach outside our own needs and anticipate the needs of another, even to know what gift might please a friend. Quite often, we buy things we might like, failing to consider the recipient.
The challenge of giving, and its relation to attention (and thus to love) is explored by David Whyte in his little book I referred to earlier, "Consolations." He mentions that, as far as we know, no other creatures on earth have the ability "to fully acknowledge the spirit of another," which he sees as central to giving. I quote Whyte:
"Giving means paying attention and creating imaginative contact with the one to whom we are giving. . ." Thus it is a way of acknowledging and giving thanks for lives other than our own. It is, I might add, a form of prayer, gratitude being central to prayer.
The cost of giving often goes well beyond the money or time involved.
Many forms of giving, however, are also valuable but less personal, less a matter of attention. Consider dropping money in the Salvation Army bucket during this pre-Christmas season. Or sending a check to a charity.
Here's a even easier practical idea for anyone who wishes to give without the challenge suggested by Whyte: click regularly--I do it daily: it's free!--on the Hunger Site: www.thehungersite.greatergood.com. This website, in addition to generating food for the hungry around the world, has links to the Literacy Site (389,000 books were given to children last year alone).
It takes only a minute or less to click on one of these sites, where sponsors contribute funds for the needy based on the number of clicks. So, especially in this season, you can make a difference and give regularly. Sometimes, giving can cost nothing.