The Joy of Extravagant Giving and Receiving

About 4 minutes to read

Last weekend I was chatting with friends about giving and receiving.  We all noted how we behave in social situations.  When invited to a dinner party we all take a small or sometimes not so small gift with for the host.  When invited out for coffee we quickly jump in attempting to pay the bill.

We noted how more and more we seem to be becoming a bartering society.  You give me this therefore, I will give you that.  In my opinion, it takes the joy out of giving.  In the name of social conventions or politeness, it seems as if we do not want to lose face and need to keep up with others at all costs.

Lately I have been asking myself critical questions around the topic of giving and receiving.  I know that I am an extravagant giver as my sister says, but I am not such an extravagant receiver.  Do I see myself as weak or vulnerable if I am on the receiving end?  Perhaps I feel I am abdicating power by being the receiver.

As I volunteer here at San Anton, I set the intention each day that just for today I will serve with love.  I will give generously and I shall be a blessing to others.  These are noble intentions to have, right? J

Yesterday afternoon things were once again slow and no pilgrims were popping into the ruins.  I decided to walk towards the road and look for some action and as I approached the front gate, I saw a lone pilgrim slightly following the curvature of the road to come towards San Anton.

I asked him if he intended to stay with us and if he would like to view the facility.  Together we made our way towards the entrance and I allowed him that breathless moment when he first viewed the ruins and imbibed it all in for the first time.

James said to me this morning before he left that I “lured him in with charm” making me sound like a Camino siren of sorts, but actually what I did not know was that I needed to be on the receiving end of a powerful message.

As yesterday was the Feast Day of St. James the patron of San Anton, Ovidio Campo Fernandez brought his family to share the celebration with the pilgrims in the Albergue.  They had prepared for us a delicious meal and once again, the dinner table lit up with generous laughter, love, food, and fellowship.

As dinner progressed, I learnt a little more about James.  He is a cinematographer from London who made a rather spontaneous decision to walk the Camino.  Check out his work here

For a long time he has been feeling there is something that he must do.  It is to make a film about people undergoing major life changes and turning things around for themselves.  He has taken a few loans from banks to finance this project and next year would like to return to the Camino to record the wonderful stories pilgrims have.  Currently he is walking to raise money for charity in loving memory of his brother.

James told me that he doesn’t know if this project will succeed or fail, if he will fall into debt and need to take jobs he hates but what he is learning is the more he gives, gives and gives the more he receives.  He said this is a law of the universe that regardless of what he gives or to whom it always comes back many fold.

As he spoke, his energy became electric.  I could see that he has previously and is currently experiencing the joy of extravagant giving.  What he did not know was that he was also giving to me.  He was bolstering my spirit and reminding me of wisdom I hold as true.

I know that when I give from a place of pure love without expectation, judgement or neediness I as the giver experience absolute joy.  I do not feel an attachment to the outcome, it is as if that which I am giving is simply passing through or over me onto the next person, and I am simply a conduit.

Often our society tells us the exact opposite.  The lie is that there must be something in it for us, otherwise others take advantage and take us for granted.  It is even said that no good deed goes unpunished.  Is this not just ridiculous?

It is not easy to set aside these messages or our gigantic egos and simply allow extravagant giving.  I also realise that when we do not allow extravagant receiving we are blocking the flow of all wonderful things that can come to us.  By not being an extravagant receiver, I disempower another from being an extravagant giver.

Being an extravagant giver does not mean being flashy, flamboyant or excessive.  This is how most people would define extravagance.  For me it is not limiting the flow.  Being open to all possibilities not restraining them but simply allowing.  This always starts with my attitude.  When I restrain my attitudes and intentions, my giving and receiving are also restrained.

These were some powerful lessons to remember.  In fact, I need to remember each day if I want to live a joyous life.

Thank you James for walking into my life and adding some flavour to the wisdom I already know to be true.

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