He is also a bona fide free spirit. He used to hitchhike to work every day—from New Jersey into New York City. “Somebody ALWAYS picked me up and I was NEVER late. Each morning I counted on the service of ordinary commuters who had lives full of their own worries and yet, without fail, at least one of them would do something generous, as if on schedule. As I stood there with my thumb outstretched, the only question in my mind was simply, ‘How will the miracle happen today?”
Kevin goes on to say he has a belief about what happens in these moments. Kindness and generosity are like a breath—they can be squeezed out or drawn in. To solicit a gift from a stranger requires a certain openness. Embracing extreme generosity requires some preparation. He learned to think of it as “an exchange”—during the moment the stranger offers his or her kindness, the person being aided offers degrees of humility, indebtedness, surprise, trust delight, relief, and joy to the stranger.
One year Kevin rode his bicycle across America. In the evening, he would scour houses for a likely yard to camp in. He’d ring the doorbell and ask if he could pitch his tent. He’d say he had just eaten dinner and promised he’d be gone first thing in the morning. He was never turned away—not once. And there was more; he would frequently be invited into the house.
“My job at that moment was clear: I was to relate my adventure, and in the retelling of what happened to me so far, they would get to vicariously ride a bicycle across America with me—a thrill many of them confessed they secretly desired but would never do. Many times, I’d also get a bowl of ice cream.”
Kevin remembered that when the miracle flows, it flows both ways. With each gift the threads of generosity are entwined and both the giver and the recipient were captured. He learned that good givers are those who learn to receive with grace, as well. They radiate a sense of gratitude.
He concludes by saying, “As with my hitchhiking rides, the gift is an extravagant gesture you can count on. No matter how bad the weather, how soiled the past, how broken the heart, or how hellish the war, I believe all that is behind the universe is conspiring to help us—if we will humble ourselves enough to let it.”
This Sunday will mark the first of two “Commitment Sundays”—November 1 and 8. You have received your “Estimate of Giving” cards by now. I would be less than candid with you if I didn’t report that our giving dipped last year. There could be many reasons for that. I am more concerned that there was a dip in the number of Estimate of Giving cards turned in. Our goal this year is to receive an Estimate of Giving card from every family/member of the congregation.
The second goal is to encourage you to remember that all that is behind the universe is conspiring to help you—and all you have to do is be generous in your life.