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If I Could No Longer Give

What would happen, I sometimes ask myself, if the world were so arranged that I could no longer give?  At first blush, this sounds like a wonderful situation!  I would be able to turn off all appeals from charities, from community funds.  No longer would I be impelled to put a dime in Santa’s basket at Christmastime, and each spring I could walk comfortably past all the Girl Scouts who wanted to sell me cookies.  I could virtually ignore everyone who wanted or needed anything.  It sounds wonderful to me!

But then I consider further.  In such a world, I would also be unable to buy birthday gifts for my children.  I would no longer be able to continue a time-honored ritual of placing a single rose in a bud vase on my wife’s desk.  No “I love you” to the one I love would be tolerated, and the miniscule gift of a simple smile to my neighbor would no longer be allowed.  I could not give my polite attention to anyone with whom I talked, nor could I give my allegiance to the country which has given me a place to live in freedom and relative safety.

Before long, I would find myself totally isolated from all other people, unable to respond to the urgings of my emotions.  Every expression of love withheld, every instinct to share cut off, I would become intolerably weighted down and would soon cry out in despair as my very personhood began to disappear.  I can imagine no anguish quite as strong as being denied the possibility of giving.

I return to my real world and find it most inviting.  Before me is a letter from an institution in need of funds.  In my pocket is a note reminding me that the Girl Scouts will be collecting cookie money next Sunday.  My calendar tells me to be home early tonight because I am cooking the spaghetti for dinner I will share with my wife.  Later, I will attend a meeting where the sharing of several dedicated leaders will help to mold a new program.  Back home at last -- a hug, a kiss, and a smile later – we will talk for a few minutes about what the children are doing, review the events of the day just past, preview the demands of the day ahead, and breathe a quiet prayer.  Then we will fall asleep in the peace and inner security which have been given us by Someone who never stopped giving and who would not let anything – even death -- get in the way of the Gift.  And I am happy!

– Charles Cureton, in the newsletter of First Presbyterian Church, Matawan, New Jersey, May, 1996.