Gift It Forward
By Eric Paul S. Sevencruz, C.Ss.R.
A grateful person is a generous person. I was reminded of this beautiful truth when we went for mission immersion in Nuing, Davao Oriental. I was with a Vietnamese and a Thai in the farthest area called Kasunugan. The community consists mostly of IPs whose main source of living is farming. We came at a time when they barely had harvested anything because of a rat infestation. So people were trying to make- do with whatever little they have to feed their family. This is an added challenge to them because the community lives in a location where water is inaccessible. It required them to walk through steep terrains for at least 30 minutes to get potable water. Rain’s visit has been long overdue. People were struggling in their poverty. But we were surprised to be met by people who smile and laugh despite their difficulties. They openly welcomed us into their homes, never hesitated to offer perhaps even their long saved food and chicken to make us feel at home.
In my conversations with them it occurred to me that these people do not seem to have a concept of trying secure for their future. So saving money, for instance, is a novel concept to them. They live as each day comes and just be grateful for whatever the day has in store for them. They do not worry much about tomorrow. What matters to them is where they are now and just experience as the day unfolds with all its surprises. It’s not that they just brush aside the difficulties they encounter daily but what kept them going and what assures them somehow is that they do not see themselves alone in their ordeal. They struggle as a community and so they celebrate their victories as a community.
It is a great reminder for many of us who have become overly concerned about our set plans and a goal that we eventually forget how is it to live and experience our lives in the present with joy. When we fail to recognize that everything we have is a grace and a gift we tend to become demanding of life and of others. We become bitter with untoward turns in life which come uninvited and even intrusive to our plans.
Gratitude is experienced in the past and more so in the present. You cannot be grateful for what you have not yet experienced. You cannot be grateful of the future. But we can make an experience of gratitude in the future through the giving. Giving is an effect of a grateful experience. We give because we experienced how it is to be given. It is a great and fulfilling experience! We give because we want to share to others how great-full feeling it is to be given. It is with a grateful attitude that we become more authentic givers. The IPs are perhaps one of the most generous people I met because their poverty opens them from relying on God’s generosity. Their poverty draws them to be in communion with others, in their shared sadness, pain, joy and hope. No wonder God chose to be poor when he became man that he even marked the end of his human existence by generously giving his own life. Personally, Nuing mission immersion left an imprint in my soul that would constantly remind me to celebrate my gifts in the present and extend it towards the future by growing as a generous giver. Gratitude thus is to GIFT IT FORWARD.