Many of us independent sorts find giving far easier than receiving. Besides, won’t things be better if we take care of them ourselves?
Yet, when we avoid or refuse help from others, we are depriving them of a blessing. It’s better to share the blessing of being a giver, rather than hoarding it for ourselves. It’s one thing to accept a hand up when it is offered. It’s another thing to ask for help. That takes humility. It also takes the confidence to trust that we are worthy of help.
There is a deep spirit of generosity in Cook Islands culture. People amply share the fruits of their gardens, their fish, their love and their time.
I’ve been very touched recently by the helpfulness of some young people and friends on our island Paradise. I mentioned to a friend that I was unable to complete painting our kitchen cabinets because the odour of the paint gives my husband a migraine headache. Knowing we were about to leave on a trip overseas, she offered to do it for us while we were away so that it would be dry and odour-free by the time we return. Her young niece, who is also a friend of mine, offered to help as well. So we will come home to bright new kitchen cabinets. For me, that is a gift I will enjoy over many months to come.
Another example of receiving help is in one of my Scripture classes at Araura College. Since I will miss giving a few classes during our trip, I assigned a couple of ways to practice the virtue of service during this period.
A friend of mine says, “If you don’t ask, you won’t get a yes.” I decided to ask one student to do something for me that I really needed. She enthusiastically agreed to make a video of students at Araura College talking about their favorite virtues to be shown during the upcoming 30th Anniversary of The Virtues Project on a worldwide online celebration on June 9.
The video she made was absolutely wonderful! Several students were interviewed in front of the virtues kuru tree mural they created as a permanent installation at the college. They pointed to a virtue as they shared why it is their favorite.
One boy said, “My favorite virtue is love. It might look small but it’s bigger in our hearts. We all need love in our culture, in our history and in our community.
Everybody please pick love because I love you and I love myself.”
The videographer’s little sister, age five, said, “My favorite virtue is perseverance, because it means trying really hard.”
A mama from our island family is in hospital on Rarotonga. Her daughter is constantly by her side and had to leave her sons on Aitutaki, so a friend is generously caring for them. Family have gathered from New Zealand, Australia and Aitutaki to massage the mama with special island oils, pray for her, sing and talk to her. They provide round-the-clock company. The latest news is that she is greatly improved. It’s no wonder, or rather it is a wonder, with all that love around her.
It is important to be a giver of love, service, helpfulness and mercy. It is also important to give others the blessing of expressing these virtues to us. If all the giving is from one person, it keeps the relationship off balance. Only when there is a flow between us do we both feel we are standing on holy ground.
British Playwright William Shakespeare said: “The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”