She had long grey-black hair, brown eyes, and looked about fifty-four. She wore a green Parisian style beret that had been well used, accompanied by a long black old dirty sweater. She came from London, Ontario and her name was Colette.
Colette approached me on the busy streets of Toronto one night asking for some money to buy food at an A & W—her favourite fast food joint. As I walked with Colette to the restaurant she asked if it was okay with me if she ordered two Mama Burgers and a diet Coke, which of course I assured her would be fine. Colette carried nothing with her because she probably owned nothing. On the short walk I had the chance to learn a bit about her.
As the two young teenagers in front of us at the A & W were paying for their order, they had all but ten cents to owe. Their eyes met mine and I am sure I reflected the same astonishment that had flooded their faces, as Colette, without hesitation, offered them ten cents. My charity seemed like no burden at all after witnessing Colette’s offering. Colette had willingly given from her poverty, and yet there I was in my abundance, worried about the time I was wasting and the money I would be spending on this little trip. I felt selfish for feeling this way.
Colette would probably be surprised to know that she gave much more to me than the equivalent of two Mama Burgers and a diet coke that evening. Colette had modeled the importance of generosity in our relationships with others. As a student I realize my version of generosity might look a bit different than it would for an A list celebrity, but what Colette revealed to me was that there is always something to give even when we might think we haven’t much to begin with. Generosity can take several shapes, for examples, generosity with our time, words, and actions to name just a few. My sister is quite the exemplar for what it means to be generous with words. She often offers words of affirmation and counsel to those seeking her help. For me, I am seeking to improve my ability to be generous with my time, especially with friends who live in different cities and enjoy long conversations on the phone, which is something I am not accustomed to doing.
I believe that in showing generosity to others, especially when we least desire it and feel as if we do not have much to give, we grow in our ability and capacity to love. I challenge you to be generous to one another. Find out what you can offer to a special individual, or individuals and like Colette, be a model of generosity!