If there’s one thing that can pop up anywhere, it’s generosity.

I’m reading about it in Dostovesky’s first novel, Poor Folk. Two lovers are writing letters across the ghetto alleyway. He has forsaken the everyday luxury of tea to be able to send her geraniums.

Generosity is something I admire more than almost any other quality, and I am surrounded by friends and family who have it in droves.

I watched my mama give away a bag of groceries she just bought, simply because the other person needed it too.

I was fed a delicious dinner by a friend who doesn’t have a job.

Someone let me go before them in the checkout line because I am only buying one item.

I watched friends give an orphaned child a home.

(Witnessing the moment of a lifetime, Ethiopia, 2009)

I saw it at the dump in Phnom Penh when two boys – scrounging in fresh garbage for plastic bags or aluminum to sell for a fraction of a penny - shared their stickers.

(These boys were 13 and 14 years old, Cambodia, 2007)

(Right after a fresh truck of garbage dumped, Cambodia, 2007)

(A boy I fell in love with, Cambodia 2007)

Nature displayed it when a mother elephant moved to the back of the family line to protect her baby.

(Elephant crossing, Kenya 2010)

I heard Gary Haugen speak at an International Justice Mission dinner I attended last week on the topic of generosity. He phrased something in a way I’ve never heard before. He said we all rely on generosity to survive. From the moment we are born, we are dependant on at least one other human being’s kindness (a mother) for survival and care. He said, "generosity is an invitation to greatness - greatness of heart and the larger reality."

I admire the open-handed life, the one that receives good and gives good without reserve. They’re like these endless sources of geraniums.

A generous person is not afraid of lack, because they are connected to an endless supply.

A generous person has courage and believes the way they love is stronger than pain and loss.

I experience generosity every day, and I’m learning it’s more than about giving money. It’s giving a moment to let my heart be tugged, to stop and say, “Wow. You, and your hurts and needs, matter to ME. Let me care.”


  1. Wow, I have to say that I'm rather happy I stumbled upon this today.

    I'm a college student, and it's terribly depressing to see that generosity is a word that, to the majority of my fellow students, seems to have been left out of the dictionary. I constantly find myself shaking my head at their actions, and sometimes I just want to slap some sense into them for giving college kids a bum rap by being such non-caring jerks. Whenever I frequent our newly-remodeled, multi-million dollar cafeteria and see the staff cleaning up disgusting tables full of dishes left by students who just don't seem to care (or understand?) that they're meant to return them to the kitchen, I make a point to help them clean up because you just can't treat people like that, no matter what their job, where they're from, or how above them you think you are in the social order.

    I promise you, adults, that we're not all scummy, self-centered idiots. Just give us a chance.

  2. how high above them*


  3. i really try to do little things for people when I can... and sometimes I do them when I can't. I think it's still the reason people believe in each other.


  4. I agree it is simply amazing to experience yourself or see it done by/to others. I think genuine generosity is one of the purest forms of love - it can come from those you love or complete strangers.

    love the blog.