Gifts and Giving

Some thoughts on gifts and giving.

The phenomenal soul of the giver is omnipresent despite the predominance of stories about the sordid and banal characteristics of life. We see that soul every time there is clarion call for help and it echoes through the hearts of all Americans.

It doesn’t matter what kind of tragedy inflicts our communities, by the thousands people come bearing, not only the gift of service and time, but also material gifts. With the tragedy of 9/11, with Katrina and New Orleans, with earthquakes and tornadoes, miles of material show up, piles of goods are delivered, and so too are smiles with every donation of money and time. This is the spirit of America in action manifesting into a harmony of help and confirming the axiom that I am my brother’s keeper.

Individuals, corporations, unions and organizations, overwhelmingly unselfishly volunteer and respond to the collective ache of humankind whenever it’s needed and validate that there is a friendship of strangers.

No one knows all the names of those in need in any situation. It doesn’t matter, names are not important when you know someone is hurting. The human face is one in time of need. The community of America and often beyond looks upon that face and responds with abundance and compassion.

It was Thoreau who said, “What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when we bring what is within out into the world, miracles happen.”


The leaders of our two main political parties are now established. Now what do we do to vett our own choices?

From time to time we need to assess whether our leaders in politics and business and even the leader in ourselves, measure to the definition.

Leadership is the ability to enthuse, to inspire, to create, to accomplish goals for the greater good.

Some seek leadership, some are promoted to it, some are elected to it and some have it thrust upon them. There is gentle leadership, ego leadership, benevolent leadership, partisan leadership, inspiring leadership and even tyrannical leadership. Whichever style is chosen by any individual, given the opportunity to lead, is based on character and character is the outward quality of one’s inner being.

Character is a visible piece of the heart that others see when action is required.

In these times of political rhetoric, of constant change, of interdependency and minute interconnections, where truly the out-breath of one is the in-breath of another, leaders, in all their forms, need to look for and then act for the greater good.

Anything less diminishes character and keeps leaders from their potential of greatness.

9/11 #2

Like many of you, I visited Ground Zero a number of times over the years. I would pass the wall of shrines at Trinity Church where flowers, letters, and photos were set in sacred reverence on the wrought iron fence.

Each tribute a collective jolt and individual pain reminding us of what we lost.

In September of 2001, we prayed and tried to rescue those we thought might be alive and trapped beneath the tombs of debris. We cried as each body was recovered and still we hoped.

As the time passed our prayers of hope gave way to the horror of the numbers dead and the knowing that no one could survive. All we could do was salute and be silent as the flag draped bodies passed from the pit into the broken hearts of their families and we ached for those who would have no body to mourn and to bury.

Our leaders carried the war on terrorism to where it began as the civilized world said no to the inhumanity of terror and vowed to destroy the organizations that promote and encourage it as a means to a religious end.

The war is far from over, only another year is over. Like many of you I will visit Ground Zero again and again.


I will be traveling to a wonderful wilderness part of this sentient planet at the end of this week and thus I will not post for several days. America is coming up on a sad and tragic anniversary and the next few posts from me will be about that time of terror.

How do we begin to understand the deep desperation, the consuming hatred of the terrorists who viewed life with such little value and with so much darkness, they could not see a future beyond the deaths of thousands? What lesson did they hope to teach? It certainly is not one from the Koran. The true Islamic faith does not teach or preach terrorism or murder.

There are no clean or clear answers to this question. There is only speculation with charges and accusations that go back centuries. Discernment is always difficult when tragedy is the precursor to reason. We must not forget that judgments grow from many seeds and if we plant the wrong seed, vengeance usurps justice and drags us to the level of the terrorist.

Some find comfort in God. Some look elsewhere. Some need to forgive. Some need to blame and some need to hate. All need to heal and to rebuild the empty holes in our hearts and at Ground Zero. And we still ask why and expect no answer we can understand.