We just sent off 20 boxes of sweaters, jackets, blankets, shoes, childrens' toys and various other items from Southern California to the people of the Jersey Shore, some of whom lost everything they had owned. The drive was organized by our daughter, who herself was unable to return to her home in Hoboken until yesterday. People responded in great generosity. One of our friends here in California e-mailed shipping companies until she found one that would pick up and deliver the boxes at no charge. The story that touched me most was that one of our donors received the e-mail request for supplies and went to her linen closet to dig out some old blankets. As she was looking them over, she thought, "Why am I giving these people my worn out old things?" and went to Target, bought ten new blankets, and donated them instead.
When I told that story to my home health nurse, she said, "That's how it should be. When we give, we're actually giving to God, and how can you give God any less than your best?" That led my biblically oriented mind to the story of Cain and Abel. We are told that Cain, a farmer, brought an offering to God of the fruit of the ground. Abel, a herdsman, brought the first-born of his flock. God, giving no explanation, accepts Abel's gift and rejects Cain's. The classical commentators note that Abel brought the first-born, the best that he had. Since the text said nothing about the nature of Cain's gift, they assume that it was rejected because he brought, not the best, but the worst of what he had.
Thanks to everyone who gave. May the people who need these things receive them, and use them well. May the spirit of giving the best that we have pervade everything that we do.