To Give of Yourself Wholeheartedly is to be Vulnerable, and to be Vulnerable is to Give of Yourself Wholeheartedly

I grew up in the Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco in the late 1960s and early 1970s. There were a lot of people who were homeless in our community. From the age of five years old, every Thanksgiving, my father and I made dinner for the people in our community who would otherwise go hungry. We would begin at 6:00am, cook and serve all day, clean-up, and toward the end of the day, we would enjoy whatever was left over for our own dinner.
 
The year I was nine years old, my father came to me and told me he would donate our last $20 to the dinner. He said that it would mean that we would not have any money again until the end of the month. I was worried. I asked if we would be homeless. He assured me that we would not. I asked if we could still go on our special Friday night date to the ice cream shop. He said we could not. I was sad. I did not want us to give away our last $20. I did not want to give up our special time together or our ice cream.
 
My father smiled, knelt down, held my shoulders in his hands, looked me in the eye, and he said, “I want you to know that when you give from your heart, it will always come back to you.” He donated the $20. 
 
After cooking, serving, cleaning, and finally eating, my father and I walked home along bustling Haight street. As we strolled past a local business, whose doors were closed for the holiday, I noticed a crumpled piece of paper in the corner. I pulled away from my father and grabbed it. To my absolute astonishment, I held in my hand a $20 bill. Shocked and excited, I ran over to my father screaming, “Look what I found!” My father again knelt down, gave me a hug, looked me in the eyes and simply said, “See, when you give from your heart, it will always come back to you.”
 
My father taught me an important lesson about generosity and trust—To give of yourself wholeheartedly is to be vulnerable, and to be vulnerable is to live wholeheartedly.
 
It is a lesson I see play out every day at Berkwood Hedge School. I see our students, teachers, parents, all members of our learning community give of themselves wholeheartedly. We take risks, make mistakes, ask for help, and have hard conversations. We offer comfort, provide support, practice gratitude, and seek justice. We give wholeheartedly and we see it come back to us in the bonds we build and the extraordinary learning community we create. 
 
Friends, as we enter this season of giving and gratitude, I offer this wish for you—that you will give of yourself wholeheartedly, but also give to yourself wholeheartedly, that you will allow yourself to be vulnerable and generous, and that you trust that it will come back to you. 
 
In Partnership,
 
Love
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