People become possessed by possessions. An old fable describing how trappers catch monkeys aptly illustrates this—clearly the hoarding impulse precedes our modern times. First, trappers dry a gourd, drill a small hole in the side, and fill the hollow gourd with sweet nuts. Then they hang the gourd in a tree and wait. Without fail, a monkey comes, reaches a little hand into the gourd, grabs a fistful of nuts—and finds that he cannot pull his nut-filled hand out. While the monkey twists and turns and tries to get away, the trapper bags him.
According to the story, the trapper knows that the monkeys will not let go of their treats. If they would only let go, they could run free. But the monkeys desperately hold on.
Generosity is God’s way of teaching us to unclench our fists. God intends us to move through life with open hands. What are you holding on to?
Today we remember Patrick, bishop, missionary to Ireland (461). This message was adapted from “Act Boldly with Generosity” written by Martha E. Stortz that first appeared in the January/February 2006 issue of Lutheran Woman Today (now Gather) magazine.