Today, for my first column, I want to write about a virtue that is alive and well in the Cook Islands – generosity. Generosity is giving to others something that is of value to us.
It is a quality of spirit that calls us to share what we have, whether our time, our compassion, a listening ear, or food from our gardens.
To me, generosity is one of the strength virtues of the Cook Islands community. In the five months my husband Dan and I have spent on beautiful Aitutaki, we have been immersed in a sea of generosity.
I admire an ei worn by a shop manager, and she insists on giving it to me. Friends drop by with an entire branch of bananas when they learn that it is Dan’s favorite fruit.
Our fruit bowl is filled with gifts from generous friends – the largest avocado I have ever seen, grapefruit, pawpaw and watermelon.
Kisses are a part of becoming a local and we get lots. A baby at a rugby game extends her arm dripping with red juice from her freezie and offers me a taste.
We are included in umus and barbecues, lavished with coconut, fresh caught fish, chicken and kumara. The sharing of food gathers people in and is a constant here.
A widow in church tearfully thanks the congregation for sharing food with her, and also repairing her dining room table “like new”, and mowing her lawn.
Generosity is often expressed in small acts of thoughtfulness and service.
When Dan was recently stranded on the side of the road with car trouble, a girl aged nine and a six-year-old boy stopped to ask if he was alright.
The girl offered Dan a bite of her candy bar to sustain him, and the boy went into a nearby house to bring him a cup of lime juice.
A few days later, Dan dropped by the house to bring them some brownies. Like all virtues, generosity is contagious.
This is true joy, to do something kind or compassionate, generous or considerate for someone each day.
Who will be the blessed recipient of your generosity? And remember to allow others to give to you as well. Then the gift is doubly blessed, bringing joy to the giver and receiver.
I am smiling as I write this first column for the Cook Islands News. Being a writer in paradise is truly “living the dream”. It is one of the many gifts of divine generosity I have received in this island paradise.
For more on The Virtues Project go to www.virtuesproject.com and www.gracefulendings.net