Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Spiritual Work Season

It's Ash Wednesday, so I am beginning my "spiritual work season." It's time to get in shape and -- for once -- I'm not talking about my body!

A few years ago, I was inspired by the movie Pay it Forward, although it does have a difficult ending. It wasn't a new idea, of course, but the catchy phrase has helped the concept find new life. I know that the venerable and prolific American sage, Ben Franklin, was a fan of the approach -- he wrote about it in 1784.

To Benjamin Webb: A New Method of repaying Money lent.

Passy, 22 April 1784

Dear Sir,

. . . The account they give of your situation grieves me. I send you herewith a bill for ten louis d’ors. I do not pretend to give such a sum; I only lend it to you. When you shall return to your country with a good character, you cannot fail of getting into some business, that will in time enable you to pay all your debts. In that case, when you meet with another honest man in similar distress, you must pay me by lending this sum to him; enjoining him to discharge the debt by a like operation, when he shall be able, and shall meet with such another opportunity. I hope it may thus go through many hands, before it meets with a knave that will stop its progress. This is a trick of mine for doing a deal of good with a little money. I am not rich enough to afford much in good works, and so am obliged to be cunning and make the most of a little. With best wishes for the success of your memorial, and your future prosperity, I am, dear Sir, your most obedient servant,

B. Franklin.1

I have been thinking about a variety of ways - not necessarily monetary ones - to "pay it forward." Here's the short list:
I really want to make a difference and I'm aware that the world is closer than -- as they say -- "at my doorstep;" it's at my feet! My goal is to demonstrate to my children that showing gratitude has a lot of faces, and not all of them are green dead presidents. It's about having an attitude of appreciation; it's stepping forward; it's claiming my place in the world as a contributor.

And . . it's remembering all of my own gifts when doing all or any of that seems too challenging. So now you know why I call it the "Spiritual Work Season." It was a season in need of a verb!

1 comment:

Margaret Grant said...

This made me teary eyed. Great post.