When Giving is All We Have

by Alberto Rios

                                              One river gives
Its journey to the next.

 
We give because someone gave to us.
We give because nobody gave to us.

We give because giving has changed us.
We give because giving could have changed us.

We have been better for it,
We have been wounded by it—

Giving has many faces: It is loud and quiet,
Big, though small, diamond in wood-nails.

Its story is old, the plot worn and the pages too,
But we read this book, anyway, over and again:

Giving is, first and every time, hand to hand,
Mine to yours, yours to mine.

You gave me blue and I gave you yellow.
Together we are simple green. You gave me

What you did not have, and I gave you
What I had to give—together, we made

Something greater from the difference.

When Giving is All We Have

 

This is the kind of poem that needs to be read aloud, and more than once. The repetition of ‘give’ and the opposing concepts of someone/nobody, has changed/could have changed, better/wounded, are held together with that one word.

As the poet says, Giving has many faces – I imagine in your own life experience, there have been many faces you can recognize. The giving and the receiving, the two sides of the same coin.

Giving is, first and every time, hand to hand, / Mine to yours, yours to mine. This seems to me to be a critical line. It is something we share at a personal level, hand to hand, no matter how globally it reaches.

And don’t you love the simple green that comes from your blue and my yellow?  What you did not have and what I had to give – these come together to make Something greater from the difference.

I find myself feeling a sense of abundance and gratitude each time I read this. Truly, giving is all we have, the book we read over and again.
 

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16 thoughts on “When Giving is All We Have

  1. Oh, this is definitely a keeper. Thank you so much and especially for your reflection on it. Margaret 613-725-6941 h 613-795-9879 c

    “The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.”

    – Thich Nhat Hanh

    >

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  2. Well, thanks for GIVING this poem, Jan. Giving does have many faces. I sometimes wonder if I give too much. Then, I remember my heart is too big and it all works out.

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  3. Dear Jan: Thank you for this poem. I love how you bring out its essential simplicity and beauty through your comments. Love – Mary Lou

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  4. Jan,
    Thank you for sharing – giving – this poem. I read it out loud and loved it even more. I am especially touched by the last few lines.

    ‘Giving is, first and every time, hand to hand,
    Mine to yours, yours to mine.

    You gave me blue and I gave you yellow.
    Together we are simple green. You gave me

    What you did not have, and I gave you
    What I had to give—together, we made

    Something greater from the difference’.

    and with love. Lisa

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  5. I am 2 poems behind in following heart poems, and so today I opened this one up first and holy cow! How true it is that the teacher comes when the student is ready.. Thank you! Sharing on WordSPA.

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