Paying Attention

Each December, when our children were young, we would gather as a family around our dining room table and talk about what organizations we would like to support financially.  Our church always came first, but we also always set aside additional money to support causes and programs that were important to us.  One year, one of our sons had been studying whales in school and so wanted to give some money to a program that supported whales.  Together we decided on the amount.  I wrote the check.  He addressed the envelope, put on the stamp and put the check in the envelope to be mailed.  As they grew older, the causes they chose were most often the ones they were involved in.  A small organization in the heart of Appalachia with whom we worked each summer to repair homes.  A program that provided food, clothing and a touch of humanity to the homeless who lived in New York City.  The organization with whom they worked when they traveled to Central America to build homes.  That mid-December conversation became a family ritual with each of us having a voice and all of us making the decisions together.

My two sons are now grown.
Young men each making a difference in his own way.
But, the tradition continues.
This evening, after dinner, my wife and I sat down and had the conversation again. What causes or programs do we want to support? Which organizations are addressing the most pressing needs which we see in our community?
With the decision made, I was left the task of writing the checks. As I did I realized that I should be paying more attention to what I was doing. That with each check I wrote I should be more mindful of the work we were doing some small part to support.  The food pantry where more people will line up tomorrow so they have the food to survive and to feed their children.  The medical clinic which provides much needed medical services to the most vulnerable in our community.  The organization which is doing fabulous work with the immigrant population in our community, not only helping them find their way in this new country and culture, but challenging the rest of us to live up the ideals of our nation.

I realized as I was writing the checks what a privilege it was to do so.
And, that I needed to pay more attention to what I was doing.