After the holidays, it's easy to forget those in need. We participate in the big push towards getting turkeys and toys for families, and donating to our favorite causes but what happens after the new year? It's not like these needs suddenly evaporate when the last bottle of champagne is emptied.
Our family tries our best to give throughout the year. My husband has a wonderful little ritual that he does at work. He keeps a small white tea bowl on a shelf at work next to a statue of the Buddha (which he does not worship, it's more of a reminder of the Buddha's teachings of mindfulness and being present in the moment). Every morning when he comes into work, he takes a few coffee beans from a bag he keeps in his desk and places them in the tea bowl. When the tea bowl is filled, he makes a donation to charity. He then empties the coffee beans and starts over again.
This practice helps cultivate his heart, both in giving and in gratitude for the blessings of food and comfort we have received. Since his office doesn't permit smoke or fire for obvious reasons (typically one would light a stick of incense as an offering), he needed to be more creative with his offering practice. He chose coffee beans for a few reasons:
~the sound of the beans hitting the bowl and the other beans (pleasing to the ear)
~the smell of the coffee (pleasing to the nose)
~the contrast of the black beans against the white bowl (pleasing to the eyes)
~coffee is a luxury that we're thankful to be able to enjoy
~coffee reminds him of his Zen teacher, who is a coffeeholic
If you're looking to cultivate a charitable spirit during 2009, you can try using oatmeal instead of coffee. Quaker Oats' Start with Substance campaign to donate up to one million bowls of oatmeal to those in need. From January 12 through February 28, for every UPC from a Quaker Oatmeal hot cereal product families enter at www.startwithsubstance.com, Quaker will donate one bowl of oatmeal to Share Our Strength, a childhood hunger organization. You’ll need to be a Facebook member to participate.
“This post was written for Parent Bloggers Network as part of a sweepstakes sponsored by The Quaker Oats Company.”