Yesterday at work, a little boy wandered in front of the desk and finally stopped to ask if he could borrow a pencil.
(Months ago I brought in a small stash of Blackwing pencils which are the greatest pencils ever made and I wanted to have them on hand for moments like this. “Where did these cool pencils come from?” some of my co-workers asked, but I’ve never fessed up.)
“I have to write a sentence using the word ‘pact’,” the boy told me.
“Pat?” I asked. I had trouble hearing him.
“Pact,” he replied.
“Like you packed your bag?” I asked.
“No. Pact. P-A-C-T,” he said. “It means agreement.”
“What grade are you in?” I asked.
“Third,” he replied, and hurried off to write his sentence.
I turned to my co-worker. “That’s not a 3rd-grade word. I didn’t learn that word until I don’t know when.”
She laughed at my irritation.
When he brought the pencil back, I asked him what sentence he wrote.
“My brother and I found a pact,” he said confidently. “It means we found an agreement.” I like that he felt the need to explain it to me.
A pact, to me, is a more abstract kind of agreement and a 3rd-grader lives in a concrete world. In his 8 year old mind, he found a tangible something with his brother. He probably packed it in a pack. I wondered what his teacher would think of the sentence.
But this is supposed to be about generosity, the prompt for the day.
Generosity is also an abstract idea. I can’t pick up in my hands and hold a generosity.
I was thinking, instead, of coining a new phrase for a group. You know, like, a pride of lions or a murder of crows — except it would be a people group. A generosity of sons.
I have five sons, all of whom are now amazing men. It’s a marvel. A gift that I don’t deserve. A generosity.
My father used to tell me that I was the richest person he knew, and then he would add, laughing, “And maybe someday you’ll have money.”
To fill you in on what my sons are doing, I’ll give you a few clues, like one of those logic-grid puzzles. Two are still in school. Three are gainfully employed. One owns his own company. One lives in Canada. One lives in Florida. Three live in New York state. Three are married. Two have children. I”m proud of every single one of them.
Maybe in a future letter, I’ll tell you more details.
But I did want to say, in closing, that the very first person I think of and associate with the word generosity is you. You are such an amazingly generous person. You could win prizes for it if someone gave out prizes — but you’d probably give your prize away if I know you.
And I’m so glad that I do know you.