Tuesday, April 18, 2006

More Blessed to Give

"...remembering the word of the Lord Jesus, how he said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" (Acts 20:35)

I believe this, so I try to be quick to give my time, my energy, my money, my stuff. But what happens, time after time, is that the more I give away, the more I get back. And what we get from each other, freely given, is really "blessed" more than what we earn or buy for ourselves.

Concrete example from right now: I went to some effort to give away a book to a friend in Canada. The same day, someone at work gave me a book that she had enjoyed and thought I would like. And three days ago, I received, in the mail, from Cleveland, a book about Henry Flagler and the overseas railroad that my friend Marilyn wanted to share with me. So if I'm trying to give more than I get, just in that one measurable department (books) I'm behind right now. But looking at the larger picture, what a blessing it is to be part of a community of readers.

There's an old story about heaven and hell: in hell, there's a long banquet table filled with sumptuous food and hungry people are sitting all around it, but they can't bend their arms at the elbows, so as hard as they try, they can't bring the food to their mouths. So they are starving, and in agony. The scene in heaven? Just the same set-up, table, food, elbows that don't bend, but in heaven the people are feeding one another.

For a totally convoluted analysis of the "getting ahead by being behind" conundrum, I recommend John Barth's book Giles Goat Boy. It is wonderfully diabolical, almost guaranteed to tie your synapses in knots. A very good book, if you like that kind of thing.

5 comments:

TBG said...

Hey Karen,

Can you send me Giles Goat Boy?

Karen said...

My new and resurrected blog is going to feature "replies" to all the comments. But now, at the end of a VERY LONG day, working 10 hours and then running to the store and attending a 3-hour discussion group meeting, coming home to wash dishes, catch up on the Achenblog and write my new blog entry before the end of the day, I find here a comment that I don't know how to respond to. Are you teasing me? Because I will send it to you, and then you'll be sorry, I guess! Especially when you start to read it and find out that your brain is inside out after the first 10 pages.

Good for you for getting there first with the "it's not libel" quip. And many others today. You killed today. (That's professional comedian slang. As a pacifist I can barely bring myself to leave it on the screen.) Now I've just about used up my blog energy and time answering this comment. I need a new plan.

TBG said...

Karen,

I think I was half kidding. I thought it was a funny thing to say and also that it might be nice if you did send the book (TOTALLY up to you). I knew it was ambiguous, but didn't quite know how to deal with that, so I just said it and left it there for you to ponder.

I still can't believe that someone mentioned the book today in the Boodle.

And thanks for your kind words. Having you a bc both say that makes me feel great!

TBG said...

Karen.. I also love the line in your answer comment above about having to come home to wash dishes, which, lacking a mention of eating first, hints that the dishes were left in the sink, which means you live like I do!

Worst. Sentence. Ever.

But you know what I mean.

Karen said...

I think it's an omen that Barth was invoked in the A-blog today. I'm going to re-read Goat Boy and the Sot-Weed Factor. And you can expect a shipment, certainly, but not immediately. Try to forget about it so it will be a surprise.