trains, giving and hurting

Facing the wrong way on a three hour train journey does not fill me with great happiness, sitting in church being told I was loaded as I put in my last bright blue note in the collection bowl does not fill me with great happiness but then no one ever told me to expect to be happy.


No idea how I was so distracted, I mean I have taken trains with three screaming children and a grumpy husband and not managed to sit facing the wrong way. I don’t know how to undo this situation so I figure I will stay facing the back until I am sick.

The last time I felt like this was on Easter Sunday being driven someplace and feeling like my insides wanted to clothe my outsides. I managed to hold on by the mantra “let me just get to x. let me just get to x” 

Sunday and time for giving. I put my hand in my pocket to take out a fiver and then changed my mind. It has to hurt. Hadn’t I said that to someone else earlier in the week? So, yes, it has to hurt. If I give, it has to be real giving not lip service.

Real giving is when you are not giving a small piece at the end of the week or month but when you have to give something up for yourself in order to give. It is not about being thoughtless or irresponsible with money; it is about being judicious and giving what you can.

Sometimes we are without money. But that does not mean our giving has to stop, a man might want to talk in the street when you are rushing to a meeting, a person might need help painting a wall. These are giving opportunities; we need to look out for giving opportunities.

It does not have to hurt but we have to notice it. So for me, changing the bread pan to the 75c one instead of the €2 allows me to buy someone a cup of coffee. I can give the time whilst they drink it and listen to their story for free.

I remember one time I was working in Cork, I was rushing one Friday evening to get to the car back to Kerry when a nurse stood in front of me. A fellow sister in Christ, she was struggling and so on the corridor we sat down, we talked, we listened, we prayed. I broke the landspeed record to be back for a meeting in Kerry but it felt good to be there for her.

I met her again, recently in a different context, she remembered that evening and she told me how on a Friday evening she now went home slowly, reflectively, prayerfully and has helped many people on the way out the building. Giving that grows, a small giving growing in someone else.

Going backward on a train lets me reflect, on times when people have given to me and when I have given to people. The best way, I have discovered to give is to not expect anything from it. To give without expecting thanks. To give without expecting a response. It is a whole new way of giving.

So the person who said I was loaded, a few weeks earlier I had spent a few days supporting someone on the edge of leaving their church, because someone commented on their giving. , and told them they were showing off. How can we be showing off, giving till it hurts? That is not showing off, it is proving to ourselves that we can give more, the more we give, the more we do without, the more we do without.


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