If the landscape reveals one certainty, it is that the extravagant gesture is the very stuff of creation. After the one extravagant gesture of creation in the first place, the universe has continued to deal exclusively in extravagances, flinging intricacies and colossi down eons of emptiness.
I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.
We transition from the season of our beloved ancestors to the season of gratitude and grief this month. With Thanksgiving / Thanksgrieving, we are reminded to practice gratitude, to share the abundance of our lives, and to also grieve the painful legacies we remember this holiday season. The world is also once again on fire and we are called as people of liberal faith in this season to witness to the complexities and nuances of painful histories of oppression, violence, and trauma as we grieve and still hold space for hope, peace-making, and bridge building in the most difficult of circumstances. Love calls us to hold multiple realities tenderly as we imagine new ways of being and dream of possibilities beyond the confines of present circumstances. Love invites us to consider “both/and” instead of just “either/or” in our thinking to find greater harmony and wholeness individually and in our larger world.
Our spiritual theme in this month of so much gratitude and grief is the Gift of Generosity. Defined as “liberality in giving,” being “marked by abundance or ample proportions,” or “characterized by a noble or kindly spirit,” generosity is a key characteristic of our Unitarian Universalist faith. The UUA’s Article II Study Commission which was tasked with renewing our purpose, principles, and covenant as a religious movement found that Love was at the center of our liberal faith and six other values were identified as flowing forth from that great love. In their assessment of our movement, they found that one value was commonly named that was not found in our current 7 UU Principles: Generosity! So the proposed new value statement reads: “We cultivate a spirit of gratitude and hope. We covenant to freely and compassionately share our faith, presence, and resources. Our generosity connects us to one another in relationships of interdependence and mutuality.” So let’s dive into this new liberating theme as we reflect upon our defining values as people of liberal faith.
Our friends at Soul Matters generated this stimulating list of questions for spiritual reflection in our Chalice Circles and other committee meetings of the community. I hope you will take advantage of them to spiritually-ground the work of your group and to deepen the relationships among its members.
- How has your definition of generosity changed since you were younger?
- How has your enjoyment of generosity changed since you were younger?
- Who taught you the most about being a generous person?
- Has being generous ever led to you becoming “richer”?
- Has generosity ever healed you?
- What’s been your hardest act of generosity?
- Have you ever wished your parent(s) had been more generous in some way?
- How might Life be calling you to be generous in a new way in your closest relationships?
- Without knowing it, we all put boundaries and limits around our generosity. How might the storylines and beliefs passed on to you by your family or society be hemming in what you have to give to the world?
- Do you have trouble giving yourself permission to receive the generosity or help of others? What storyline might be hemming in your ability to receive that generosity?
- Some say that attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity. Who needs the gift of your attention?
- Some say that giving liberates and frees the giver. How might Life be trying to free you by asking you to give?
- What if the secret is giving to others what we wish to receive ourselves?
- How good are you at being generous with yourself?
Our community would love to share in the times of joy and provide support in the times of difficulty and sorrow. Please email email@example.com if you have a joy, sorrow, or milestone to share with the congregation on a Sunday morning.
Our Pastoral Care Team is available for any member in need of spiritual companionship, a listening ear, and loving heart. You can reach out for confidential support by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the church office.
Yours in love and generosity,
Rev. Jeremiah Lal Shahbaz Kalendae