Generosity

+ tray of tea and toast Generosity May 2010 10352945_sMy husband and I have just returned from a week in Ireland and are both still marveling at the spirit of generosity that we encountered throughout our journey. The first day alone, had no less than three expressions of generosity! Interestingly, all of them involved beverages of one sort or another – but, it’s Ireland, after all, so perhaps that was fitting.

The generosity began the moment we arrived at our hotel in Strokestown where there was some confusion about what room we were to be put in. The innkeeper, seeing our bleary-eyed tiredness (it was about five in the morning, American time and we’d been up all night) offered us tea and toast while he sorted things out. “It’s on the house,” he told the waitress when she delivered a tray with a silver tea pot, white china cups, saucers, cream, sugar and six triangles of toast on a rack with butter and jam. We were overwhelmed, but he acted as if this were nothing at all.

At dinner time, we went to an Indian take-away restaurant and chatted with the proprietors while we placed our order. They could tell by our accent that we were from America and we told them we’d arrived in Ireland that day. When one of them brought our food, instead of the small can of soda we had planned to split, there were two large bottles. “You’ve traveled so far, have an extra drink!” he said.

Later, we stopped in Hanley’s Pub, the oldest bar in Strokestown, and conversed with the bartender and a couple who were also at the bar. After awhile, the bartender gestured to the other customer and said, “Geoff over here would like to buy you and your wife the next round.” Geoff raised his glass to us in a toast. “Welcome to Ireland,” he said.

Generosity seems to be in the culture of the Irish people. They were generous with help, with stories, with conversation, with food, with gifts. It was touching to be on the receiving end of so much giving. Each incident raised my spirits, moved me, opened my heart. It felt magical.

It made me want to be more generous as well. The constant exposure to this level of easy, open, flowing generosity stretched my own capacity for generosity. I am noticing already that what used to feel “about right” as a level or kind of response to a situation that called for generosity is now not quite enough. So I am adjusting to this new level of response.

Generosity is often linked to our financial resources, but there are many more resources we can share: time, expertise, presence, wisdom, imagination, comfort, humor. Generosity of spirit is a healing experience. When someone is able to be gracious and forgiving of us, or shows us more kindness, helpfulness, interest, or patience than we would expect – we feel better about ourselves and about the world.

Since experiencing it so dramatically in Ireland, I’ve decided to focus on generosity as an intention and a spiritual practice. Will you try it with me? Invite yourself to expand your capacity for generosity. Open your awareness to this beautiful quality and notice it as it comes into your vibrational field.

My guess is that you’ll notice your heart expanding as you manifest generosity in your spirit and in tangible acts. I also suspect that you will find yourself a recipient of generosity in unexpected ways.

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