Generosity and Reciprocity: A Meditation from Abraham’s Life

One of the things I remember about my father, was his generosity. The little my father was able to haul in from his hourly factory job was fairly and generously shared with family and friends. He did not feel anyone owed him anything nor did he think that he did not owe anyone anything. He could not allow others to do work for him without payment. Nor did he expect payment for everything he did for others. In short, he had a generous spirit. And his generosity, at least from my vantage point, had nothing to do with reciprocity.

This week I noticed something about Abraham’s life. He was a generous soul. When the employees of Lot and Abraham could not get along, Abraham offered Lot the choicest and most fertile properties in the region. His generosity quelled the workplace turbulence. When Abraham was forced to rescue hostages as a result of a regional assault from rival Kings, he asked and received nothing for his rescue efforts except payment for those who helped him in the campaign. When Sarah died, a neighboring dignitary offered him a choice piece of land to bury her, yet even in grief and disorientation, Abraham refused the offer and insisted on paying for his wife’s burial site. This is only a few examples of Abraham’s generosity. I know it is a cliche’ but he was a giver and not a taker, and he expected nothing in return.

There are some things in life that are very meaningful. I think generosity would be one of them. Forgive me for potentially getting controversial: When we look for the cheapest products in the marketplace at the expense of people loosing there jobs, there could be a more generous way to purchase what we need. If we are employers, which I am, it does not seem generous to offer my employees, venders and contractors as little as I can get away with. If we are a son or daughter and abandon our aging parents, withholding emotional and financial support coupled with patience, might we scrutinize our generosity. Generosity is in our feet as much as it is in our heart. And it has little or maybe nothing to do with reciprocity.

Joseph C. Hutchison, Rochester Hills, Michigan  2020

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