by Holly Hurban, Ph.D.
In October we give candy. In November we give thanks. This all culminates with Christmas, Hanukkah, and the full potency of the December gifting season.
When I was child, my mother and father put a rock in my Christmas stocking as a gift and a joke. It was a whitish rock about two inches high and one inch wide, with a bit of crystallized roughness at the bottom. Of course, I got the traditional toys as well, but it was this rock that I remember so vividly.
I think the fond memory was not because the rock was particularly beautiful or that I could in some way use a rock in my day-to-day childhood existence. It was the fact that my parents, who struggled in their marriage, were still able to find a common means to let go, have fun, and impart the spirit of humor on a joyous day celebrating the birth of a man who changed the world. It is never the gift itself, but the spirit behind any gift, that makes it special.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary lists over sixteen definitions of the word “give”, most of which revolve around the context of an offering. Definitions including words like “bestow” or “award” pop up on this list. Nonetheless, my favorite meaning behind the word “give” comes from the Tibetan word “cága”. Cága is frequently used in the milieu of generosity, but focuses less on the gift and more on the disposition of the giver and the act of giving. In fact, it is defined more along the lines of “letting go.”
Often we view giving in terms of reciprocation. When you give time, knowledge, or a beloved item, you are giving in the hope of a impactful and hopefully positive reaction on the part of the receiver. This provides a very distinct quality of the event, which is frequently meaningful and fun for both giver and receiver. There are some people who might say that giving money is the easiest (albeit very important) way to give, but I disagree with that framework. In fact, I would like to suggest that when someone gives an amount of money that is significant to them in the context of their life, they are in the process of letting go and discovering unadorned faith, while fully trusting that the meaning behind the financial contribution can actually change a bit of the world.
I am not from a wealthy family, nor do I currently belong to a family of wealth in the financial sense of that word. I look around and sometimes struggle with the excesses I see everywhere, while just over the horizon there is visible need. I limit my life to essentials and love the practice of recycling just about anything and everything. Nevertheless, I am humbled when I see those with great wealth give significant amounts of it away for the good of another person. I am also humbled by those with little financial wealth who give what they can for the exact same reason. It is this act of giving freely that provides a link to humanity and the fullness of our ordinary existence. It is the rock that stabilizes the ground, if only for a moment.
I still have my little white rock in my office. It reminds me to give whenever and however I can. In this season of giving, please consider making a financial donation to Truth Be Told in order to help this inspiring organization in the business of renovating lives and its programs that offer hope to women for whom hope may be all but lost. Your financial contribution can change their world.
And afterward, please use the “Comments” section below to share with the TBT Community your thoughts: What gift have you gotten that was the most meaningful?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Holly Hurban is a Board Member for Truth Be Told. She has her Doctorate in Criminal Justice from The City University of New York and has published entries in the Law Enforcement Encyclopedia. She is not only a skilled academic writer but also has a passion for creative writing. In addition, Holly is trained in the contemplative Buddhist arts. She has completed all levels of Shambhala Art as well as two levels in Miksang Photography. Holly will have some of her Miksang photos on exhibit in Austin at Dragonfly Gallery at Rosedale (4007 Marathon Blvd.) from November 7, 2013, to January 3, 2014.