My mother decided that she wasn’t going to buy anyone in our family Christmas gifts this year, but instead wanted to donate money to the Salvation Army. She’d done some research on-line (she really is using her iPad) and came to the conclusion that the Salvation Army made the most of donations. I suggested that she could double her contribution by shopping for winter coats, hats, etc, at the Salvation Army thrift store and then donate those to a half-way house that is always in need of good clothing. I also offered to shop with her. She loved the idea and we had our first buying trip last week. We checked out a cart full of great clothing and the total bill was $36. My mother was utterly surprised. We’re going to need to make a number of trips for her to reach her donation amount.
Every element of this project is fun. Because we are not looking for clothing for ourselves, or anyone in particular, all we need to do is focus on buying good stuff. All of the size 2, 4, 6.., adorable women’s clothes (that I never gave a second look at in the past since I didn’t have a prayer of fitting into them) we can now happily buy for “someone” and imagine how happy they will be to get these great clothes. I’m also trying not to over-think this. Will these clothes be wanted? Liked? Who knows. All I can really know is what I am feeling at any moment and the older I get, the more I think that being happy is what we are here to do and be.
There is a lot of talk about “service” in the world of spirituality/religion, but so much of it is grim; carrying the dark undertones of the suffering, selfless, servant. Many of us carry the burden of guilt that we are not doing enough, so we try to do things that we hope will be helpful but we struggle to do them. I don’t enjoy being with people who are not enjoying being with me. If I think that someone is motivated by guilt or a sense of obligation in our interaction, I’d rather they stay away. So I have to extend this reasoning to the world and believe that others can sense my motivation too. If I could wave a magic wand over the world, my wish would be to see everyone as happy. I cannot give what I don’t have, so if I want the world to be happy, I must become it first.
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Howard Thurman