The cheerful taker

IT occurred to me as I walked the short distance to Mrs. Brown's house that my present role as a ``taker'' was as natural as when I was a ``giver.'' What indeed, would the gentle, generous givers of the world do if there were no takers? I had, by this time, come to Mrs. Brown's ``people bush,'' so designated so that any passer-by, hungry for the beauty and fragrance of a rose, could simply take one. The bush itself as I passed it was in full bloom -- the rare roses an invitation hard to resist. Mrs. Brown, however, had told me that the one drawback to having a ``people bush'' was that one could not expect takers to carry with them the proper shears so that no harm would come to the bush when a rose was removed. This she had learned to accept.

Givers are many-faceted. They give not only their roses but their time, leaving whatever it is they are doing to respond to those who need them; a delighted sniffing of something in the oven is often rewarded with, ``If you can stay a few minutes longer, they will be ready and out of the oven and we can have tea.''

Listening is one of their gifts. They continue to do with nimble fingers whatever it was they were doing, while listening intently.

Surely many of those who are now takers were once givers. They, too, shared their time, their garden riches, the honed experience. Their caring is as natural to them as breathing. When the role is reversed, it feels like the right season in the many seasons of a lifetime.

Of all givers, our planet is the most generous of all! As a delighted taker, I look at the grass after a welcome rain. All growing things glisten. And the incredible green of the grass makes me think of crushed emeralds. If a bird should be singing in a tree, I walk to its music, my going away from it lightening my footsteps as if I were walking on a private moon.

There's a hummingbird sipping hungrily the nectar at the heart of a red flower! My cup overflows. It is even enough taking for the rest of the day.

I celebrate this planet. I forgive its floods, its earthquakes, its uneasy crust. But as a giver of glorious things, it has no equal.

Mrs. Brown is waiting for me. She has already cut, with her proper shears, my favorite flowers, and set them in a vase of water. Newly baked cookies have made her little house fragrant. She invites me to tea. She is a talented dollmaker, and shows me her newest one and I want to hold it close. It is an infant, and I cuddle it in my arms.

Walking home, I feel the bounce in my footsteps, and if a passer-by sees a woman carrying flowers, and no more, I know better.

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