At a conference, I had the chance to hear Jane Wei-Skillern, who has served at the Harvard, London and University of California Business Schools, and she quoted the head of Egypt’s Habitat for Humanity who shared the proverb: “If a basket has two handles, it should be carried by two people.”
In pursuit of the fullest understanding of generosity I can find, I am captivated by the idea that generosity is truly about making sure no one has to carry the load alone. It’s a simple idea, but it takes our intention, commitment, and effort to actually put into practice. And yet, it is something I think that it is a natural part of church life, of life in community. When we send a note of concern or make a meal for new parents or sit and listen over a cup of tea, we are taking up one of the handles of someone’s basket. When we volunteer to serve community meals or stand with a neighbor in protest of an injustice or welcome a refugee family into our neighborhood, we are taking up one of the handles of someone’s basket.
Another friend shared an African proverb with me: “If you want to move fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” These two proverbs have been filling my imagination with the potential for understanding generosity in community. And they beg the question, How would the world, and how would we, be better if we spent more time nurturing togetherness? Sharing the basket. Bringing others along instead of insisting on our own view, needs, demands. It might slow us down, but I agree with my friend, I think we would get a lot further.
Grace and peace to you and blessing your baskets,
Rev. Stacy Emerson is the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church in West Hartford, CT and the Stewardship Consultant forABCUSA. She is also the Coordinator for The Generosity Project which is about helping congregations deepen their understanding of stewardship as a call to generosity as disciples of Jesus; re-framing the stewardship conversation; and cultivating generosity in pastors, lay people, and congregations.