Horne: Acts of stewardship give meaning to aging gracefully

[Elderhood is] incomplete until we have taken what we have learned…and share it with the world.

Stewardship is about discovering our passions and holding ourselves accountable for allowing these gifts, whatever they might be, to flow into our communities.

It is the way of the compassionate heart and allows the circle of life to flow.

Taking the journey into elderhood is about connecting with our truest selves, but it will always remain incomplete until we have taken what we have learned through this self-reflection and share it with the world.

Living from a place of stewardship, there is no division between giving and receiving, when we give we receive and when we receive, we give.

It is like a pot of goodness creating a flow of energy that is self-sustaining. It doesn’t always flow in a back and forth process, as often we receive from some and we give to others.

This process, however, ensures a sense of belonging to a greater community than ourselves.

It also reminds us of who we really are in our truest nature, leaving a reassurance that our connections with others from this heart place is worthy of our attention in order to feel compassion towards ourselves.

Authentic giving is beautifully illustrated by Bruce Barton in this parable…”There are two seas in Palestine. One is fresh, and fish live in it. Splashes of green adorn its banks. Trees spread their branches over it and stretch out their thirsty roots to sip of its healing waters.

“Along its shores the children play. The river Jordan makes this sea with sparkling water from the hills. So it laughs with sunshine.

“Men build their houses near it, and birds their nests, and every kind of life is happier because the sea is there. Then the river Jordan flows on south into another sea.

“Here there is no splash of fish, no fluttering leaf, no song of birds, no children’s laughter.

“Travellers choose another route, unless they are on urgent business.

“The air hangs heavy above its waters; man, beast and bird will not drink from it.

“What makes this mighty difference between these neighbour seas? It is not the river Jordan. It empties the same good water into both, not the soil in which they lie, not the country about.

“This is the difference. The Sea of Galilee receives but does not keep the Jordan. For every drop that flows into it another drop flows out. The giving and receiving go on in equal measure.

“The other sea is shrewder, hoarding its income jealously. It will not be tempted into any generous impulse. Every drop it gets it keeps.

“The Sea of Galilee gives and lives. The other sea gives nothing. It is named the Dead Sea.”

Defining what your gifts really are is not easy for some. We can get caught up in old ways of finding acceptance through performance that has often been part of the journey through our middle years.

Becoming reacquainted with our essential selves in elderhood involves a letting go of the past and sometimes starting afresh in our discovery of what we have to offer our loved ones and our communities.

Our natural gifts come easy to us, expressed in a way that bubbles forth like a brook of clear, blue water. They are unique to us, our way of feeling full and connected.

I was privileged to experience this myself as I participated in the joy of stewardship with many other compassionate hearts at a recent fundraising event for the Sing For Your Life Foundation.

Everyone coming together with a sense of passion and purpose to extend themselves for a cause of great importance to the enhancement of the well-being of seniors in our community.

This giving, for each volunteer I am sure, awakened a spark of what it means to contribute and to join with others of like mind.

The event was a wonderful culmination of hard work that enjoyed the revelry of generous disco partiers who believed in what we are doing and opened their hearts, their pocket books and their talents to support this organization.

This giving resulted in the creation of a boundless energy of positivity that could be felt throughout the Mission Hall.

I know that as I lay in bed the next morning, taking in all that was experienced, my heart felt full and the returning flow of receiving was very much present in a life-affirming way.

Most of the time stewardship is not about giving in big, dramatic ways. Often the need is much simpler, sometimes so simple that we can easily fail to notice it.

The author David Irvine sums up stewardship in this way: “An important part of stewardship is to open our eyes, open our hearts and become aware. We have all experienced, and we have all been, people who help and people who hinder; people who lift and people who lean; people who contribute and people who consume.

“To give encouragement, offer support, show interest, and awaken hope in others is its own reward and returns to the giver many times over.”

Development of a compassionate heart, lived out in acts of stewardship, is an integral part of aging gracefully and developing a meaningful life. In your encounters with others this week, when spirit moves you, ask yourself the simple phrase: Is there something I can do to help? And if you hear a response, don’t hesitate….just do it.

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