Author: Larry Dansky
Even after all this time
the sun never says to the earth, “You owe me.”
Look what happens with a love like that—
it lights the whole world.
“The Sun Never Says” by Hafiz
You hold open the door to assist someone behind you to enter the store and they pass through the doorway without any acknowledgment of your kindness. You do the dishes for your spouse (it’s their job, right?), and don’t receive a thank you. You invite friends over to dinner repeatedly and don’t receive the courtesy of a reciprocal invitation. You go on a mission trip to help the needy or work in a soup kitchen and feel like your efforts are not appreciated by those you serve.
I could go on and on, and I don’t know about you, but I have to admit that I’ve felt this way at times in the past. I want to shout “you’re welcome” to the person I held the door open for. I’ll leave the dishes in the sink next time, and it will be the last dinner invitation I extend to my “friends”. And as for mission trips, well I can think of better uses of my time if my hard work is not appreciated. It seems only right that your efforts at assisting others should be appreciated by them and if appropriate,
reciprocated. It’s common courtesy and we expect such a response.
But wait a minute. Did I do those things so I could feel good about the response? Does the lack of a courteous response minimize my efforts to assist others? Why do I let myself get upset over other people’s behavior? It only ends up aggravating me, angering me, and increase my stress, not theirs. In other words, I pay a price for needing to have my ego stroked. And isn’t doing the right thing good enough in and of itself?
So I’ve worked at catching myself when I begin to feel slighted by others in response to my efforts to help. When I get no response to holding a door open, I may still say (silently) “you’re welcome”, but now with a laugh, not a scream. I’ve realized that doing chores is not any one person’s job, and no thanks are needed. I get joy out of doing my mission work and have no expectations of expressed appreciation. Just participating has taught me gratitude and humility.
Thank you, sun; if you don’t need to say “You owe me”, then neither do I. Providing your light and warmth to us without any
expectation of reciprocation is truly unconditional love.
Holy one, remind me that I don’t need to expect anything in return for good deeds. Just being able to offer
assistance to others is in itself a blessing.