The nicest people who populate the world are undoubtedly the 'givers' and not the 'takers.' The most compassionate souls I have ever met are invariably those folk who give as a natural way of life. We often think first of money when we think about the gifts we can best give, but money is often the one at the back of the queue. Before money, the most meaningful thing to give another is love, prayers, understanding, time, consideration, toleration, forgiveness, a smile and a welcome, to name but a few.
We hear a lot about what our children are taught at schools today or in some instances, not taught. Between 1989 and 2005, I visited and held special story telling assemblies in over two thousand Yorkshire Schools. I do not recall during this entire period ever once going to a school where the little children had not been encouraged by their teachers to collect and give their time and pennies to some worth while cause, often one across the other side of the world. In fact, I would go so far as saying that teaching our children the art of 'giving' is the best possible lesson any teacher could ever give them as it is only through the act of giving that one can become the good people we were meant to be.
I was in approaching my fortieth year of life before I learned to give up my possessions without grieving. All my adult life, and no doubt as a reaction to having been brought up for most of my young life without fine clothes or material possessions, once I started earning my own money and looking after my own needs, I decided early on that I'd had enough of 'doing without' for too long and would in future, prosper. For the next twenty years, I lived the high life and went without little I desired. I was greatly helped during this stage of my life by being married to a spendthrift wife who liked buying new things, entertaining, possessing and eating out as much, if not more than I did.
It took a somewhat messy divorce and having to 'make do' again as I struggled to rebuild a life for myself to bring me to my senses and to remind me what things in life were of true importance. When I was first married I loved books and possessed some seven thousand by my divorce. Upon starting again I had no spare money and was obliged to sell off all my books for a fraction of their true value, bar one hundred favourites that I kept. This act literally made me cry! At that moment I recalled an incident that I had some two years earlier experienced.
I had visited the home of a widow with whom I worked one Saturday morning with my two small sons on access. While there, one of my boisterous sons accidentally knocked a precious and expensive ornament off her table top. As I started to verbally chastise the offending son, realising that the ornament had been bought by her late husband and could never be replaced, Brenda quietly swept up the broken bits so that my children would not get cut and remarked, 'Please don't be angry with the boy, Bill. It was an accident and however precious or sentimental it was to me, it will never be worth more than one tear or one little bit of your son's hurt feelings.'
Brenda's words reminded me of the words of my mother. I once asked her, 'Mum, when we put some money on the Church plate or give a donation to some good cause, how do we know and who says when we have given enough, as sixpence to me means more than one hundred pounds to a rich man?'
My mother said, 'You will know, Billy, when you have given enough; it will hurt your pocket!'
Let us renew our 'giving' resolution today and start by giving more of the most precious assets we possess; ourselves, our better qualities and our time; and then our money!" William Forde: July 22nd, 2017.