The recent retirement of 94-year-old high school English teacher Rose Gilbert swept through the news and caught our attention for many good reasons. Ms. Gilbert taught for more than six decades. And she still plans to stay involved with the education of young people, serving as a substitute teacher. She also wants to volunteer at the library and mentor students, coaching them on writing. And, oh yes, there’s the financial contribution she has made to the school for a new aquatic center and updated performance halls.
Happily, nearly everyone has known – or at least known of – someone who makes giving a lifetime practice. Often, this desire to be of service comes linked to a strong religious faith that fuels generosity. Sometimes, the giver may be a person of means, so they can facilitate monetary gifts. One might say, “Well, not everyone can do that.” But giving modestly has its benefits, too. It’s really about the sincerity with which we give. The Internet is chock-full of studies showing a connection between those who give and those who report well-being and good health.
What’s the spiritual angle here? We submit that perhaps giving is more than having a big wallet, larger even than a big heart or sweet temperament, going beyond the boundaries of a noble humanitarian gesture. Christ Jesus’ teachings amplify the spirit of giving that flows directly from a God who is infinite Love, the source of all good.
Jesus once said: “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full – pressed down, shaken together to make room for more” (Luke 6:38, New Living Translation). It is in the nature of a giver to “make room for more.” As we do so, we begin to glimpse that the Father, right now, fills all space with His numberless gifts of love. And we very naturally enjoy reflecting this love.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered there is a Science of Christianity, mapped out her own path for a lifetime of giving. She stayed with it well into her late 80s. She never retired from her healing work in advancing the cause of Christian Science. She found ways for giving and for staying in service to divine Love. Her more “conventional” gifts involved making some financial donations to local hospitals and providing new shoes for needy children, and some adults, in the community. And yet, her devotion to giving spiritual gifts remained paramount and persisted.
It was natural for her to model her every action on what she saw as God’s action. Her ultimate aim was to give of God’s ideas, constituting what she came to see as God’s Science. Mary Baker Eddy once wrote, “God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 307). There is something you can contribute to the world, too. No matter how modest or grand it may seem. As you cherish the joyful spirit of giving, you may just find it becomes a lifelong pursuit.
From an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel.