At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come over here, eat some of the bread, and dip your piece in the vinegar.” She sat alongside the harvesters, and he served roasted grain to her. She ate, was satisfied, and had leftovers.
Bread. Vinegar. Toasted grain. It’s a simple meal, but for a subsistence community, it’s a generous one. Boaz owes nothing to Ruth for her courage to show up in the field—she is allowed to be there, by law, and to glean, but Boaz owes her and the other working-class women who glean nothing. Yet Boaz extends generosity. He gives to Ruth above and beyond what the law requires. Maybe he just thinks she’s cute. (There’s always the cynical interpretation.) Or maybe he knows there are no guarantees in life but in this moment he has more than enough and who is he to keep the more when he has enough? Maybe Boaz is just resilient. Resilience is generous. Intriguingly, recent scientific studies show generous people tend to report greater happiness, lower depression, and better physical health. Perhaps it’s because they’ve traded a scarcity mindset for a mentality of abundance—they spend less energy keeping others out. Instead of “what’s mine is mine to keep,” they say “what I have been given is mine to give.” They know that there is more to gained in giving than in defending. Anything we have been gifted—food, shelter, love, friendship—is ours to re-gift and magnify and multiply. What I have been given is not mine, but ours, and we will always be stronger in generosity than in selfishness.
Takeaway: Be generous today. Give before it is asked. Give more than what is asked. But don’t give what you don’t have to give—give of what you have in abundance, whether that’s cash or time or compliments or a freezer full of blueberries or a sense of humor. Share it generously with those you meet today, so much so that they will have leftovers.
Gathering the Stones is providing 40 days of reflections on resilience during Lent. Check back for new reflections every day (except Sundays).