As a School Trustee, I had the opportunity to give a speech at Alex’s High School, MBSS, on graduation day. While I was expressing what I thought were words of wisdom and encouragement, I could vividly recall the memory of Alex’s own graduation as if it happened only yesterday.
I looked at the audience, the hope and promise of youth was apparent. They were all young, strong, athletic, intelligent, kind, compassionate, articulate and full of life. I couldn’t help think of Alex when I looked at them. Each one of them reminded me of Alex. Then I had this sense of epiphany, a realization of feeling Alex’s presence, spiritually, of course, for physically he couldn’t be. I realized that every time I saw youth and vitality, now and in the future, I would feel Alex’s presence.
I had this moment of truth when my husband and I gave 2 bursaries to two deserving young men who were graduating at Alex’s High School. By establishing a student award in Alex’s memory, we are creating a lasting legacy that will honour his passions and benefit these and other students for years to come.
Why do we give? Whether it is a donation to charity or volunteering our time for a cause, there is a strong sense of involvement when we give. Why? It is because it connects us with the rest of the world, with the universe and perhaps with God or the divine energy that flows through everyone and everything.
I asked myself, why do we give? I received the answer to my question in my heart. We give because it gives us joy.
My cup of joy overflows.
It may seem incongruous and even insensitive of me to talk about joy so soon after Alex’s passing. I mourn the loss of Alex every moment of every day and there will be moments many years from now when I will still feel this loss as fresh as I felt it on the day he left us. I know this but I also know that Alex would like me to remember him with compassion and joy, not bitterness and sorrow.
Sometime back when Alex told me that he is not religious, I could not comprehend what he really meant. I was then upset that someone who is as loving and caring as him could say something so shallow.
Now, I realize that it was I who was being shallow. Perhaps, I didn’t recognize the depth of feeling that Alex experienced with every thought and action, and every interaction. Perhaps, he saw beyond the surface. He looked deep into his soul and did what he saw terrify him? I don’t know what he saw. It’s a blessing and a curse to be so aware that you don’t need religion to be spiritually clear.
I don’t think I have the clarity of vision to see the meaning of life reflected in the universe but I think that Alex did. He was kind, compassionate and very sensitive to injustice and suffering while at the same time he was full of appreciation for happiness and embraced life with a vitality that was infectious. His friends and members of our family fondly remember the joy he spread when he was around.
I know that I will continue to learn and become more spiritually aware the more I think about him.
As I am drinking deep from the cup of wisdom, it tells me that despite all the grief and suffering that we know and experience in this world, there is an abundance of joy and goodness that we choose to ignore. Why? Is it because we expect what we do to come back to us?
Give without expecting.
What if we did good deeds just because it makes us feel good? When you scatter seeds for birds to feed on, do you expect them to give you something in return? When you water a plant, do you think about the fruits it will bear you? When the sun shines after a shower, and the rainbow appears, does it expect applause?
What if there is no reward or punishment? What if everything we do is significant and yet insignificant, like a drop in the ocean?
It is when I look at my life in comparison to the age of the universe and the stuff I have against the magnitude of abundance around me, that I realize how delusional and false this sense of possession is. I asked myself, why do bad things happen to good people? I then realized that it is this sense of expectation that makes us categorize what we experience as good or bad.
The only way to give is to give without expecting anything in return. Giving is an expression of gratitude to the universe for all the abundance that it has given us. When I give I am not just giving but I am giving back what I have already received. Yet, no matter, how much I give I realize that I will never be able to return what I have received. It will never match the infinite kindness of the universe.