Giving for the Joy of Giving

By Leslie Sann

No one has ever become poor by giving.

~ Anne Frank

A friend sent me some eclipse glasses as a gift. I thought there were two in the package, but as there were two packages, that made four. On Sunday, I had three friends visiting, and after they left, I realized I had forgotten to gift them each with a pair. Ah well. Seeing as we are in Chicago, we may not even be able to see the eclipse. The last partial eclipse we had was overcast.

But no—the next day was miraculously clear—not a cloud in the sky. Close to noon, I realized the eclipse was about to begin, and I had glasses! I went to retrieve a pair. I opened one of the packages, and there were six glasses in this package, meaning I had twelve pairs of glasses.

I can’t hoard these. What am I going to do?

Aware folks couldn’t get glasses, I was moved to action.

I went to my next-door neighbor, and I gave them two, and I went across the street to another neighbor, and I gave them two. My third visit met with a thank-you, and we already have glasses. My neighbor to the south hadn’t yet moved in, so I went inside, where there were workers and gave the two men glasses. I called my friend up the street, and she asked for four. Now I had two left.

I had errands to run, so I put a pair into my bag and went to the bank. I was asked to wait to talk to the manager. I have never seen this man smile, and I’m sure he is not known for his upbeat personality.

While transacting my business, I asked him if he planned to see the eclipse. He grunted no and told me he didn’t have any glasses. I took out the pair I had in my bag and gave them to him. He blazed a smile that almost knocked me out of my chair, declaring that I’d made everyone in the bank happy as he would share the glasses with them.

I returned home to retrieve the remaining pair but couldn’t find them. Oh no, I gave all my glasses away. Oh, well, that was fun! And then I saw them. That was more fun.

Here in Chicago, we had a 90% eclipse; even so, it was fascinating. At the 90% point of coverage, I thought I was in the twilight zone as the light inside my house became eerie and gray, even though the sky was beautifully blue and the sun was out.

After retrieving my glasses, I went out to finish my errands. Attempting to do myself the kindness of not dealing with them on the phone, I stopped at Xfinity. I walked into the store and called, “Who wants to see the eclipse?”

Someone declared, “Oh, I haven’t seen it yet,” took my glasses and scrambled outdoors. A young man, perhaps 22 years old, was leaning against the desk with an embedded frown as if all of this was no big deal, and he found the excitement annoying.

The woman stationed at the front desk prodded him to go outside to see the eclipse. He reluctantly did her bidding, returning lit up like Times Square on New Year’s Eve. He was transformed. It was hard to recognize this young man from the one who had just walked outside. 

There were more errands to run. Who wants to look at the eclipse? I even stopped a group of three teens, asking them if they had seen it yet.

What a great experience. Sharing my abundance generously and playfully had me in bliss for the rest of the day—the delight of giving plus the unexpected pleasure of witnessing people lift into joy. We were sharing something truly awesome. It reminded me of when I visited the Grand Canyon. There were people from all over the world, speaking different languages, yet there was a spirit of oneness as we beheld the magnificent in shared wonder.

In Joyful Wonder,