Rain — softly slurring down. Greens glow amid the gray. Cold, the waters of the heavens, cows and goddesses unleashed by the serpent’s slaying. Or the Father himself brings it, with the rattle of his club, the rumble of his laugh.
Today, I am pondering generosity. What Maeve requires in a king: no stinginess of heart or hand. Generosity is the taproot of hospitality: giving the stranger all that you have. Brighid, in her later incarnation as Catholic saint, gave her father’s entire household to the poor.
Generosity: what the rain gives us and the earth. It forges relationships with the joy of a gift, and the obligation to give in turn.
It’s a virtue we’ve lost, in our culture of merchants and merchandising. We’ve all turned accountants, suspicious of charity, of someone taking without payment. A zero sum game: if someone has something, then we do not. If someone gives to us freely, then they’re a fool, a weak-heated liberal. (One of the meanings of liberal is generous, truth be told.) And their gift is suspect, because nothing comes without a price-tag; indeed, it’s the price-tag that gives value, meaning.
Generosity weaves the fabric of community and so scarcity functions as the shears, with each man clipping off a piece for himself. In the old days, power was what you could give: the most powerful king gave his subjects the most gifts, and was blessed in turn by the gifts of the earth. Now, power is what you can take — and what you can withhold from others.
I am a fool at heart, perhaps, because I try to be generous. What I have, I will give. Do I fail? Oh, undoubtedly. There is often doubt, resentment and judgment in my heart. I am Brighid’s priestess, after all, and not Brighid herself. I have a hard time with forgiveness; I am generous of hand but not always — or even often — of heart. Welcome to humanity, I suppose.
Yesterday, I added a lovingkindness meditation to my yoga practice: wishing peace, compassion and love first on myself, then someone I love — followed by someone I’m neutral to, someone I hate, and then the entire world. Three full rounds of this, since three is the magic number according to the Count. (Ah, the spirituality of Sesame Street!) It’s a start.
How do you foster generosity in your life?