When a crisis or catastrophe strikes, people are often motivated to be generous. Floods, hurricanes, fires, accidents, etc. are hard on the victims but they often bring out the best in those who are in a position to help. Maybe this is the easy side of letting go because it’s clear that someone else needs something more than I do. This happened to me recently on several occasions.

The guitar: A music studio in my area was flooded and a lot of their instruments were warped. They put out a call for help. I had an old guitar in our basement that our kids had used as a beginner guitar. It wasn’t great but it was good enough for the young students of this studio to have a starter guitar to learn on.

The suitcase: Similarly, I saw a notice that a women’s homeless shelter in my city could use suitcases. When a woman is ready to leave the shelter they often need a suitcase to carry their miscellaneous clothes and possessions. I had just gotten a new suitcase and was happy to take my older one to the shelter.

The band jacket. This one was not the result of any obvious adversity, but as I was on a roll with taking things out of closets, I found our daughter’s high-school band jacket. It wasn’t a particularly warm jacket so it wouldn’t do a homeless person a lot of good, but still, it made no sense to trash a perfectly useable jacket. I called the school and they said they’d be happy to have it since some of the band members might not have the money for a new jacket.

These were easy decisions that felt good. It may not be the height of virtue but it did take the mindfulness of paying attention to needs in my community and taking a little time to make the connection. Sometimes giving is painful because we fear we might need it later. Other times it just seems natural and obvious. What has been easy for you to give away? What has been hard?