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“When the hand ceases to give, the heart ceases to pray” (Irish Proverb).
EVENTUALLY, WE ALL COME TO BE SEEN BY OUR PEERS AS BEING ONE OR THE OTHER: GIVERS OR TAKERS. If we’re givers, we’ll sometimes do some taking, of course, and if we’re takers, we might do a little giving once in a while. But by the time we’ve lived a few years, other people can usually tell which trait is our predominant one. We’re creatures of habit, and if we don’t adopt the habit of giving, then the habit of taking will be the one that people will know us for.
The giving of gifts is one of the most important things we ever do. And if those around us rarely receive any gifts from us, that is a dangerous and hurtful situation indeed. In the words of the proverb quoted above, “When the hand ceases to give, the heart ceases to pray.” We can make no rightful claim to things like reverence and gratitude if there is no evidence of giving in our lives. Nor can we say we care about other human beings. As Frank Clark said, “You may give gifts without caring — but you can’t care without giving.”
Not many days will go by in which we can’t find an opportunity to give someone a gift. We ought to be eager to seize these opportunities — and creative in the ways in which we take advantage of them. Whether large or small, our gifts should always involve the giving of some portion of ourselves. That’s the very thing that makes a gift so meaningful and important. A true gift always says, in effect, “I value you enough to give up a part of my very self for you.” Measured by that standard, the best gifts are those in which we devote our minds and hearts to others. In fact, Richard Moss may be right when he says, “The greatest gift to another is the purity of your attention.”
We ought not to underestimate the value of the gifts we’re able to give. We may not be in a position to give gifts of any great monetary value, but those aren’t usually the most beneficial gifts anyway. What about the helping hand we could give? Or the encouraging word? Or the smile or the friendly handshake? We dare not despise these good gifts or fail to give them whenever we can.
“Give what you have. To someone it may be better than you dare to think” (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow).