It takes generosity to stand up to Evil.  I ask myself in the face of the Climate Emergency and denial of it and other examples of Evil our species is facing the world over: What are the most important virtues for our demanding times? 

Joby Taylor of UMBC’s Shriver Center interviews
Brendan Walsh and Willa Bickham of Baltimore’s Viva
House on the founding of the 50-year-old Catholic Worker Center.

Two that stand out for me are Courage and Generosity.  Let us consider generosity for the next few Daily Meditations.

The older I get the more I am impressed with generosity as a sure sign of the spirit. 

Where there is generosity there is spirit.  Look for generosity.  Look for it in yourself. 

Think of the people you most admire—whether a public figure or personal acquaintance—how often is generosity a part of their character? 

Milwaukee teachers protest funds for public schools being cut to support private education, while teachers personally fund their students’ supplies and lead classes in deteriorating conditions. Photo by Charles Edward Miller on Wikimedia Commons.

Think of Gandhi or Jesus, of Martin Luther King, Jr. whose feast day we celebrate today as I write this; of Dorothy Day or Sister Dorothy Stang.  Of your parents or grandparents, teachers or coaches.

A good teacher is generous—give time and self to students; good parents and spouses, good carpenters, good artist.  It seems to me that they all have generosity in common. 

Generosity is a kind of “give away.”  I believe that the true moral path of the twenty-first century will be very different from the individualistic spirit of the modern era characterized often as “everyone for himself or herself” but rather: “Who can give away the most?” 

The most time, the most of one’s gifts, the most of one’s dreams and hopes and accomplishments of hands, head and heart.  Generosity takes trust; it takes a willingness to fail.  Generosity and Spirit go together.

Malala Yousafzai was shot at age 15 by the Taliban for her educational activism and human rights advocacy. Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017, she continues her activism. Photo uploaded to Flickr by the Southbank Centre from the 2014 Women of the World Festival.

If we have learned anything from our new creation story today it is how generous the universe is.  The sun, we are told, gives out so much energy that the entire earth system runs on just one-billionth of its energy!  

So much generosity in the universe! So much abundance and giving away. 

The Sufi poet Hafiz, a contemporary of Meister Eckhart, put it this way: 

“Sunrise” Photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash

Even after all this time
The sun never says to the earth,
‘you owe me.’
Look what happens with a love like that,
It lights up the whole sky.

Has our species learned to follow this same path?  Does our love light up the whole sky?  Do we give away, just to give away?

Was Jesus speaking of generosity when he said, “From those to whom much has been given, much will be expected”? 

“My youngest daughter drinking water” Photo by Johnny McClung on Unsplash

Our species has been given much.  Fourteen billion years of giving.  Every meal, every glass of water, every inhalation of air is a generous gift not to be taken for granted.

In upcoming DM’s we will explore more the meaning of this rich concept, generosity. 

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society, pp. 379-381. 

For the Hafiz quote see Matthew Fox, One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths, p. 417.

Banner image: Homeless man feeding birds. Photo by Antoine K on Flickr

Queries for Contemplation

Do you find yourself growing more in generosity?  Does growing your sense of the cosmos—the sun and its generosity for example—assist you in that growth? 

Meister Eckhart says that “God is delighted to watch your soul enlarge.”  Are you delighted too?   What follows from that?

Recommended Reading

Fox makes the point that religion has so often oversold the concept of “sin” that it has left us without language or power to combat evil. Through comparing the Eastern tradition of the 7 chakras to the Western tradition of the 7 capital sins, Fox allows us to think creatively about our capacity for personal and institutional evil and what we can do about them.

Matthew Fox calls on all the world traditions for their wisdom and their inspiration in a work that is far more than a list of theological position papers but a new way to pray—to meditate in a global spiritual context on the wisdom all our traditions share. Fox chooses 18 themes that are foundational to any spirituality and demonstrates how all the world spiritual traditions offer wisdom about each.

Your Music Your Way Summit

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4 thoughts on “A Call to Generosity”

  1. Avatar

    Generosity seems to be another way of saying abundance, and it is true that the more we feel given, the more we can give. Jesus was all about abundance saying I am come that they have life and have it abundantly.

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Dear Sue,
      Thank you for bringing Jesus’s words about abundance into the conversation about generosity. The two words are related, but not the same. Generosity, as Matt puts it in this meditation, involves the act of giving, of sacrifice, which often results in an abundance for those receiving the fruits of the generosity. Jesus was generous with his wisdom, with his time, with his compassion and with his life.

      There is a Gospel of Abundance in contemporary Christianity and in New Age circles that seeks an affluent lifestyle, money, good fortune, and all the goods and services one can amass. This would be a whole other kind of abundance than the one Jesus was talking about. It is a religion of capitalism, of industrialism, of eco-irresponsibility, of oppression over the people who work in the mines, factories, and sweat shops for low wages. This is the opposite of what Matt is teaching.

      We are working towards an ever increasing abundance of generosity, of compassion, and justice. We are looking for an ever increasing abundance of people to share equally in the pleasures, creativity, and belovedness as humans living together in harmony.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

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