David was verifying that the money we had wired for teachers’ salaries, and for one new cow! had safely arrived. Building Hope Academy, the school we raised funds to build, and now support, has suffered in the same way as the rest of the world in this global pandemic. Perhaps in some ways, their struggles with the pandemic have been greater; just as their day-to-day struggles for school supplies, food security, personal safety, and opportunities are greater. To add to their stress this year, donations for teachers’ salaries have understandably greatly diminished as donors in Canada have also had their share of financial hardship. It’s been a month-to-month guessing game to know where the next months worth of teacher’s salaries are coming from. My approach remains as it has always been; the right people will appear at the right time to help.
In David’s message he not only confirmed the successful transfer of our funds, but also updated me on the growth of the new herd of cows. This herd will eventually become a source of income for the school. David’s message is as follows:
Halo Liz. Thank you for the teachers salaries. I received it and also Emma’s gift of the cow. Pass my great appreciation to her and my love to her family. The school herd is surely growing. Thank you so much for the support this new year. The Encowment project cows are now 14 in total. May God bless your generous hands. Stay safe.
Generous hands. These two words have been rolling around in my head since then. Generous hands.
I have never stopped to think about whether my hands are generous. I know my hands don’t work quite with quite as much dexterity as they once did. I know I love to use my hands. I love to create things through knitting and quilting. I love to cook for my family. I love to make my chocolate chip cookies. I love to hold Ben’s little hand. I love to write. I’ve never really stopped to think whether my hands are generous.
I found myself looking for generous hands as I went about my life last week. I had another procedure done at the hospital; a bronchoscopy, to check out my lungs. The experience in this operating room was completely different than the last. Whereas the last time the room felt clinical, this time it was welcoming. One of the respirologists recognized me from the previous day when I had been in for some different testing and he acted as though he was delighted to be in on my procedure. The anesthetist was engaging with his easy conversation about his family and he was curious about mine. His question, ‘What music would you like me to play for you?’ completely surprised me. What a simple but generous gesture. Generous were his hands that cared for me.
When Dr. D entered the room, the staff was clearly delighted to see her. She immediately asked how everyone was and then noted it seemed cool in the room. Her comment, ‘I think you’d feel better with a warm blanket’ got my attention, but not as much as the fact that she went to retrieve it on her own. She did not send one of the nurses or aides. No authority was exerted by her; only generous hands. It’s no wonder she is respected and admired.
Two days after the procedure, although it was bitterly cold outside, I needed to get out for a walk to try to clear my head. Jim and I bundled up and made our way through the neighbourhood. Not many people were embracing the frigid temperatures. As we walked along the main street, with only our eyes exposed, two people walking together, approached from the opposite direction. They were having an animated conversation. The woman was looking intently at the man as he spoke. This struck me since Jim and I were both really just looking at the ground trying to avoid slipping on the ice. I noticed he had no gloves and wondered how he stood the cold. As they got closer, I saw he was using his hands to sign his words to his walking partner. She was carefully ‘listening’ to his hands. What generous hands had he.
We are limited in so many ways during these months of endless restrictions. Luckily few restrictions have been placed on our generous hands. While we are discouraged from shaking hands and touching common surfaces, there is so much more we can do. We can still text and make phone calls. We can wave. We can take photographs and share them with others. We can leave flowers on a doorstep of a friend. We can create beauty. We can be good people.
I’ve been more mindful of my hands this week. I worry less about what they cannot do and wonder more about their capacity to be generous.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘How generous are these hands?’
Elizabeth is a certified professional Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching. She is the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership coaching. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for all sizes of groups. She has particular expertise in facilitating Strategic Plans for organizations. Contact Elizabeth to learn how generous hands increase satisfaction with work and life.