It’s nearly Christmas, the time of year when everyone seems to be a bit more generous, a bit more kind and a bit more aware of the plight of those less fortunate. It’s usually a time of love, caring and peace.
Peace. In 2020, it seems peace is more difficult to come by. People are openly disagreeing on so much. In Michigan, we are struggling with restrictions, job losses, tight budgets, online school, working from home, the loss of friends and loved ones…finding peace in all of this uncertainty and frustration takes great effort, and many of us are running on fumes…we don’t have much effort in us right now!
However, peace is a concept that is foundational to the Cornerstone Community. We view and value peace as one of our hallmarks. The December character word is peace, and students will learn that peace is demonstrated through generosity and sincerity. At a time of such societal frustration, how do we help students find peace and share it with others?
First, as in all things, we need to get right with ourselves. We cannot be generous to others if we are not generous with ourselves. Important aspects of “self-generosity” are gratitude and self-care. Last month, we talked about the ways in which expressing gratitude helped lead to more happiness. Self-care is also crucial in order to be generous with ourselves. This article reveals many actions to take, even on the busiest days, to practice self-care. This article talks about ways to “find the calm” needed to engage in self-care activities. Involve your children in these practices, giving them the time, space, and encouragement to engage in them with you or on their own.
Next, we need to reframe our view on generosity. A Lungundan (East African) proverb reminds us, “You can share, even if you have a little.” It is always uplifting to see what our Cornerstone families are able to share when they know others are in need. At the Lincoln-King Academy this month, K-12 students are collecting socks for a senior center in the neighborhood, because they heard that socks are very much in need. These young people realize that, while no single student can provide all the socks needed, if most of them can manage to provide just one pair of socks, the seniors will have hundreds of pairs this Christmas.
Generosity isn’t just material, though. We can demonstrate generosity through acts of kindness and sincerity. When we are sincere in our gratitude toward others, when we offer sincere compliments, when we pledge our sincere loyalty without holding back, then we are demonstrating generosity. An extra word of sincere thanks to the grocery cashier who has clearly been on their feet and behind a mask for several hours is an act of generosity. Holding a door for someone is an act of generosity. Giving up your seat on the bus is an act of generosity. Shoveling your neighbor’s walk is an act of generosity.
An article on the relationship between generosity and peace quotes Kent Nerburn: “But true giving is not an economic exchange; it is a generative act. It does not subtract from what we have; it multiples the effect we can have in the world.”
It’s strange to think that a bit of meditation, a kind word, a pair of socks…that these things will help us demonstrate and experience peace in our lives. Yet, there it is. Peace is the product of generosity and kindness…and we are all able to give those in abundance.
A peaceful Christmas to you and yours.