Monday, 12 March 2012

Debt free

I have just read that a man called Rick Ruzzamenti donated one of his kidneys to a stranger. By doing this Rick made sure someone received the transplant he needed to live. It was a costly thing to do. It involved Rick having to undergo an operation. It means he will have to live the rest of his life with only one kidney. It was an extraordinary act of selflessness. But this is not why the story is so good.

What happened next was the niece of the person who received the kidney was so impressed that she donated one of her kidneys to a stranger as well. Then this second stranger’s ex-boyfriend was so moved that he donated one of his kidneys to a third stranger. And this happened thirty times down a chain. A twenty-ninth stranger received a kidney, and his sister was inspired to donate one of her kidneys to a man called Donald Terry.

Donald is hugely thankful to the women who gave him a kidney. He is also thankful to Rick who set off this cascade of generosity thirty transplants earlier. It is the longest chain of donations like this which has been recorded in the USA.

Most of the time when I give a present I know that in due course I will get a different present in return. When I give something away it is usually something I can afford to do without anyway. But deep down I know that costly giving without expecting anything in return can be what changes the world. Just imagine a society in which the mutual interchange of generosity was a way of life.

There is a link with the Lord’s Prayer. In the language in which the New Testament was written we read Jesus telling us to pray ‘forgive us our debts as we forgive those endebted to us’. If I keep a careful record of exactly what each person owes me back, I am in a trap. When I give and receive with no expectation of return, I am free - which is how God wants it.

It is at least seventeen years since I last wrote a week’s set of six 150 word reflections for the Scunthorpe Telegraph, and now I’ve got back on the treadmill with this my first of 350 words for the Cleethorpes Chronicle. It is the introductory part of the material I used for our parish Lent Group last week, and the sense that God’s purpose is one in which we are free from obligations to him and other people is one to which I wish I paid much more attention.

Meanwhile, something is shoving these piles of earth into the vestry at St George’s, and we can’t work out what and how. New ones arrive as fast as the Churchwarden clears the old ones. It isn’t a mole hill as there is no hole in the concrete beneath the pile of earth. It appears to come through where the floor meets the tower wall at the top of the picture but we assume that the tower wouldn’t still be standing if its foundations didn’t go somewhat deeper than that.

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