As the founding volunteer director for Thistle Farms I have long ago bought into the myth that beggars can't be choosers. As a professional beggar and priest for more than 20 years, I now understand beggars have to be choosy.
Serving enables us to step beyond our own desires and to release any sense of separation. It takes us out of selfishness and neediness, and in the process we see our own self-centeredness in greater perspective.
We put our faith in the adults around us because to do otherwise would be to embrace chaos. We put our faith in nonprofits and like institutions because we know how badly we need them to do the work they do.
Nearly thirty years later, my mom still won't tell me how that sack found its way under our tree. Maybe I don't really want to know; it lets me believe, if not in Santa, in the kindness of family, friends and possibly even strangers.
My mother had taught me the true spirit of Christmas, maybe not consciously, but she taught us, with what most consider a tough punishment, how it felt to put someone else's needs before our own selfishness.
Life, in its millions of manifestations, is essentially a variety of transactions. The transactions can be of many kinds -- between nations, cultures, individuals. There are transactions which are cellular, atomic and cosmic.