Hearthstone Column February 2016 
Giving from Faith, Receiving Without Compromise

[Author’s note: this was originally published in the Hearthstone Community Church newsletter, 02/2016]

Every Tuesday and Thursday morning, as I drive past a local, Christian church on my way to work, I see a line of people waiting for the doors to open so that they can get some food. 

On cold mornings I see mothers rubbing their bare hands vigorously up and down their children’s arms and shoulders to keep the kids warm. 

Some of the people are older and stand in line with little wheeled baskets to spare them from having to carry food in their arms. There is a real need for the food provided. 

On billboards around town I see brightly lit images of crosses with quotes from Christian scripture accompanied by information about resources for food and shelter. 

It is good that these organizations harness our natural desire to help each other through tough times. 

And yet…

You don’t have to stand in my sacred circle with me as a condition of my giving. 

You don’t have to go out into the woods and learn about the natural spirit of the land, or about my values or my beliefs to receive what I have to give for your sustenance. 

While my desire to serve on my own path drives me to set aside time, energy and money for benevolence, for charity, for giving; my abiding passion for a democratic public sphere makes me recoil from asking another person to connect their human needs to my personal faith. 

I am avowedly anti-evangelical. 

And so I carefully choose the charities for the Denver Celtic Women’s Circle events. 

I chose Food Bank of the Rockies for our Brigit’s Basket Food Drive because it is highly efficient, it has a very long reach and, while some of the pantries are a part of local religious organizations, many are not. 

The food that arrives at those pantries is not marked in any way by the source of the donation. It’s just food. 

Bottom line: at the coldest part of the year, the most vulnerable among us will have food, will have what we can gather and offer. We will do what we do in Brigit’s name, but those who receive that bounty, will not have to compromise their own path to receive it. In fact, they will never even know. 

So that is how I give, and this is how I receive...

I stood in the wilderness on Imbolg. The circle was shoveled into the snow. The points for the sunrise and sun set were marked out, and the winter branches overhead had the first hints of buds. The hope of spring is everywhere now, if you know where to look. 

My soul was fed by good company and the natural landscape, by the opportunity to offer my devotion and to breathe freely in the fresh air. I believe that when we nurture ourselves, we can better nurture each other. I hope that this season finds you well and that the blessings of your life and your path are awake in your heart. I hope that you have what you need, and when you do not, I hope that you are able to find what you need, when you need it. 

© Paulie Rainbow 2013