One of my best and wisest friends, Jennifer McCrea, put up a Facebook post yesterday morning that got me thinking about a favorite quote of mine: "Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity." It's so true. And, working in philanthropy, I'm surrounded by an awful lot of people giving an awful lot of money away every day.
I think that deep listening is just beautiful, comes from a real place of love and is profoundly nourishing to everyone involved. I know that for me, no amount of philanthropic strategy-building or implementation fills my soul nearly as much as just sitting with a friend and letting them unfold. Be heard. Open up. Melt away walls. It's intimacy in its most authentic form -- the human connection I think we all crave at our core.
Which is also what I loved so much about this blog by Agapi Stassinopoulus. She's right, the word 'intimacy' is typically reserved for romance. Never in my world though. Oh, no no. For instance, when my pals and I sit to talk, we talk. No holds barred. We pretty quickly slip into what Stassinopoulos's mother called "human communion," where the outside world disappears, and you feel like you're "in the presence of something almost sacred." Bingo. And oh, what a gift that is.
So, this holiday season -- of course, let's buy each other presents. Make donations. Have festive parties! Revel in the giving and joy this season brings out in so many of us. But let's also think about stopping long enough to hear what someone has to say. Really say. From their deepest place. It might be the simplest, yet most poignant, gift we give. And, as Rainer Maria Rilke noted, the one that comes back to us in boundless ways: "This is the miracle that happens every time to those who really love: The more they give, the more they possess."