Thursday, 3 July 2014

Give a Little, Take a Little

Recently, a friend and I went for a walk in one of my favourite parks.  We visit there often, walking familiar trails along the rocky shoreline, then back through the shaded woods, finishing at salt water once again.  

On this particular walk, near the end of the path through the woods, we found a new surprise.  Someone had carefully crafted a fairy house, shaped to fit the hollows of a large fir tree.  

It really was charming:  A little curved door and an arched window, calked with living moss, and bearing a sign that said "Give a Little, Take a Little."  

I unlatched the tiny door and found all sorts of treasures inside: Feathers, pretty shells, heart shaped stones, notes, and photos, and little greeting cards. 

I was charmed both by the idea of the fairy house, and by the fact that so many passers-by had chosen to participate.  

There is something to be learned from this gift in the forest:  

It speaks volumes about our desire to reach out to others, to feel part of a community, to share what is beautiful to us.  

It speaks about our ability to respect the creativity of others, and to use our creativity to bring moments of brightness to friends and strangers alike.  

And it speaks to our understanding of need to give when we can, and to accept gifts with grace when we need them.

I have trouble with the accepting part, and I know that a lot of other people do too.  I find great joy in helping others but when I'm offered help myself it embarrasses me and hurts my pride.  I feel shame that I can't surmount every challenge on my own.

Pride is a good thing.  It helps us to carry on in times of trouble.  It helps us to retain our dignity.  It helps us to be self reliant and to do our best to rise above our circumstances.

But pride can be a bad thing too.  There are times in every person's life when they truly do need a helping hand; sometimes in the form of emotional support and sometimes in the form of tangible assistance, like help with food, or shelter, or medical care.  When you are stretched beyond your ability to cope by yourself and pride prevents you from accepting a hand up, your pride is working against you.

Perhaps the key to finding balance between pride and need can be found in the example of that little fairy house in the woods.  When you're doing well and reach out to help others who are struggling, you're leaving a treasure in the fairy house.  When you're struggling and in need of some caring, it's okay to take a what you need from the trove.  In doing so, you're honouring the kindness and generosity of those who left the gifts, and you're receiving some small repayment for kindnesses that you, yourself have done in the past.

So, please, if you are in need right now, do reach out for help. There are generous hearts and caring arms all around you, reaching out to help hold you up.  Don't let pride get in your way. You'll repay what you've received - and more - when you're able, by offering your own gifts to others.  

Give a little, take a little:  In the greater equation, it all balances out in the end.