An Odd Pairing–the Sacred Silence of Giving and Conscious Purchasing: Part 6 to What is Service? What is Generosity?

Image created by Constantina Dirika

Image created by Constantina Dirika

This was tough to put into words for awhile, and yet I was feeling it all along. My point has been to teach my daughter about service, giving and generosity and to share our experiences while doing that. During the process, one perspective I have considered and one that has been expressed to me by others is silence in giving. Anonymity. I have done my fair share, and admitting that does, in some ways, defeat the purpose of being anonymous. Some would say you should give so much that you fail to notice where your life ends and giving begins and vice versa. Service is your life, but most people have a different relationship. Though they still participate in giving with anonymity in mind, we choose specific times and places to give. Zoe and I weren’t an exception, and some days were monotonous in sorting, picking up, organizing, donating, and dropping off (but this is essential to the process). I kept an activity log every day, but I stopped listing each day’s activities to readers since it didn’t retain the sincerity I felt. Lists are tricky anyway, but explaining each day’s activities is overkill, and going into details can at times break someone else’s confidence (giving to people who are “proud” and to people who don’t know I gave to them). Another example: Day 25’s meditation with my daughter. While I am overjoyed that she has continued to meditate (at random times but mostly after playing video games), sharing her private thoughts about her meditative state would break her confidentiality (even if she isn’t reading this blog).

I did find some places where our life and giving are merged, as in selfish giving, but I also found it in our weekly grocery purchases. I felt proud to show her the companies that give part of their profits back to organizations and non-profits that benefit our communities and world. One of the products we discussed, and that Zoe likes, is 505 Southwestern salsa. On the side of every bottle: “Flagship Food Group, LLC, will donate a minimum of $100,000 to Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) from May 1, 2013 through April 1, 2014, contributing 1% of the purchase price of this product. Visit
We talked about products like Newman’s Own (donating 100% of their profits to various charities and non-profits)that are environmentally-conscious and contribute to making the world a better place. Being a conscious consumer is a necessary survival skill in a capitalist society, but it also allows us to sponsor products and companies with business practices that we admire. (I say this without my full enthusiasm since we all participate in purchasing some products created by workers making extremely low wages or working in bad conditions–that leads to more questions from my daughter.) I have been crestfallen when having to explain many of the conditions in our world.

I always spin it into a positive direction by showing her examples of people, products, and companies that consider conservation and try to better the world. This card company, Skyflight Mobile, is one of my favorites for providing information about birds native to the U.S.

I explained how important it is to care for our natural areas and wildlife–that is service to the earth and the future people and animals who will live here. I told her about the Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count. These are free events to help the Audubon society with bird counts: “All Christmas Bird Counts are conducted between December 14 to January 5 inclusive dates each season. Your local count will occur on one day between those dates. Participate in as many counts as you want!” Open to families and new bird enthusiasts, as well as experienced birders. She was curious and said that she’d like to maybe pariticipate next year, but this year, she already has plans.

Mulch for these trails--they need it.

Mulch for these trails–they need it.

Yesterday, on the 31st, our act of service was dropping off the Christmas tree so that it can be turned into mulch for the trails at the park where we are always overjoyed to hear and/or see the owls, cedar waxwings, great blue heron, the sparrow hawk, kingfisher, pileated woodpeckers, and our many bird neighbors.

On this first day of the year, after 30 days of taking a close look and participating in a variety of service activities, this project was a wonderful way to show Zoe different ways to give and the wide range of feelings confronted during the process of giving.