Several years ago I moved into a sweet house with a verdant yard that calls me outdoors. I named it Cielo en Tierra – Heaven on Earth. For weeks I was graced with the unmistakable warmth of gratitude each day and especially when I looked out the bay window at the 120 year old oak tree in my back yard.
This tree was the thing that made me say yes to the house. Ten steps past the front door, a bay window framed this force of nature and I was drawn like a Yo Yo to the hand of someone playing with me. The window, the tree, the blue sky, my breath. All of it a bit overwhelming. She was beautiful. I turned and said, “I’d like to rent this house.” That was four years ago.
At the same time I was struggling with a certain inner tension. Let me explain. At Bread for the Journey, our vision is To Nurture the Seed of Generosity in Every Human Heart. As Executive Director, I had been practicing generosity by nudging the limits of my giving, noticing the places where generosity is easy and where it’s not. Following in the footsteps of new friends who were immersed in the “gift economy” movement, I wanted to provide my grief support services as a gift to anyone who needed them, but was afraid. I worried that giving away my services would reduce the value of my work; worried there would be too many takers and it would interfere with my job at Bread for the Journey; worried that it was an unwise move for a woman who did not have much financial security. And yet I deeply wanted to do it.
A few weeks later, I came downstairs in the early morning to make tea and spotted the oak tree with abundant sprays of green, all dancing in wind and light against a clear blue morning sky and bright green moss spread across her mammoth trunk and branches. It was spring and this was my first view of the tree with leaves—the tree I had now named Grandmother. I was struck with awe and the words Thank you, Thank you, Thank you tumbled past my lips.
Many minutes later I finally turned toward the kitchen to make my tea. In that moment – that remarkable moment—something shifted and my worry fell away. With that simple quarter turn, I suddenly knew I could offer my grief support as a gift to those who needed it. Not only that I could, but that I would do it with joy and a clear mind. No dilemma.
Gratitude became a doorway to generosity. When my heart was full of Thank you, giving with no strings came as effortlessly as my breath.
You can see I did not make it happen. This was a moment of grace—one that invited me to think about what happens when gratefulness spills over. The surprises. I had never seen gratitude and generosity so clearly as cohorts, nor experienced them so interdependently—gratitude pollinating generosity, giving more life to each.
No, I did not make it happen, but I can share what happened with you so I’m not the only one graced.