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Chapter 14: Walking through a World of Gifts by David Paul Warners

An illustrated companion to Chapter 14 of Beyond Stewardship: New Approaches to Creation Care. To view main webpage, click here:

There is rich irony in the fact that we value Larry’s honey (which we received for free) more highly than the jar of store-bought honey (for which we spent hard-earned dollars). Larry’s honey is a gift. The store-bought honey is a commodity. Gifts, as opposed to commodities, are personal; they are reflections of the giver, and they celebrate and strengthen relationships."

(Photo courtesy of David Paul Warners)

This world of gifts not only blesses and nurtures us but also blesses and nurtures everything else too, in an intertwined interdependence of species and soil and climate and atoms and ecosystems and . . . goodness. Furthermore, this gift-laden world has been provided and is sustained by a generous, loving Creator who cherishes and takes great pleasure in the gifts himself."
Lake, atmosphere, forest, marsh...all are connected and interdependent
The kind of gift to which I am referring is something completely undeserved. It is offered with forethought and intention by a giver who cares deeply for the recipient and who delights in the giving. The gift surprises its recipient and thereafter becomes cherished."
Have you ever received an undeserved gift that stunned you, which you cherished thereafter?
When a gift is given and received well, it elicits a desire by the recipient to reciprocate. Larry’s gift of honey ... motivated me to give in return."

For the Potawatomi people, reciprocal giving is a way of life. To learn more about how their culture values gifts, click the following link:

How can we gratefully give gifts back to creation? ...these activities may take extra time or extra money; they may be inconvenient. But that is the nature of a gift: to give a gift is to extend oneself for the sake of the recipient."
How can you start giving back to the Earth?
Realizing that the nonhuman creation’s gifts are meant for others as well as ourselves should give us great pause as we think about how to use (or not to use) the gifts."
As earthlings, we share the earth with nonhuman creation; God’s gifts are intended for all of them as well as for us. Hoarding gifts for ourselves dishonors both the gifts and the Giver. Hoarding gifts for ourselves also disrespects the others for whom the gifts were intended."
Sun, food, water, wood, oil...creation gives a myriad of gifts
As we learn to increasingly appreciate the ways the nonhuman creation sustains and blesses us, respond by giving back reciprocally, and cultivate the virtue of restraint, our relationship with the nonhuman creation and with the Creator will grow stronger. Gift giving and gift receiving knit us into relationships, humble us with a richer appreciation for our interconnected dependence on others, and tune our hearts outward, away from ourselves."

To return to the Beyond Stewardship homepage, click here:

A graduation-weekend speech inspired by this chapter.

(Skip to 11:18 to see the start of the speech.)

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