First Sunday of Lent: Embracing Generosity

Photo: Sister Nancy A. Sell

For over fifty years my Grandfather owned a small grocery store in Dayton, Ohio, “Sell’s Market”.  He was a respected butcher and grocer selling good quality meats and vegetables.    My Grandfather was honest, hardworking, good to his employees including his three teen-age sons who worked part-time in the store while going to school.   Over the years I heard many stories about Sell’s Market,  but a recent story astounded me.

My Grandfather was in the grocery business less than ten years when the Great Depression hit Dayton in 1929.   Customers asked if they could charge groceries.  They had fallen on devastating financial times.  My Grandfather said, “yes”.   After the Depression, some customers returned to pay their bills.   Others did not return even though they regained financial stability.   When encouraged to “go after them” for payment, my Grandfather said “no, let it go.”  My Grandfather was a talented business man with a generous heart.  He worked hard, weathered difficulties, knew the love and support of my Grandmother, stayed rooted in his family and did what he thought best even if it appeared others took advantage.  My Grandfather experienced God’s generosity in his life, even in difficult times;  he wanted to give back, to respond in similar ways.

God’s generosity is flowing and expansive, like a rich field producing a bountiful harvest.    Often we spend time in desert places facing various life questions  before we emerge stronger having recognized again the deep sense of God, inner wisdom, creative spirit dwelling within us.   We emerge feeling abundance not scarcity.    When we experience God’s generosity we want to give back, to respond in similar ways.  Generosity leaves us open to surprise, wonder and the unexpected.  It is the opposite of selfishness and control.  With a generous spirit we yield and “let it go” in various situations.

Lent invites us to trust ourselves and God’s creative spirit within prompting us to act out of deep convictions in the face of pain, uncertainly and doubt.  Lent is a time to face truth,  risk checking out situations and to welcome and affirm the gifts of others.  Lent invites us to embrace generosity.

Blessings and peace,

Suggestion for reflection:  What are the “desert places”  in my life?   How do I experience God’s generosity in the midst of difficult and uncertain times as well as joyful times.  Are there ways I want to live into generosity during Lent?

About SisterNancy

I am a Catholic Sister, a member of the School Sisters of St. Francis from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I enjoy swimming and nature: hiking in the mountains and along rolling hills, sitting by water and walking through the various seasons of life. I am a spiritual director, spirituality consultant, chaplain and retreat director. You can contact me at
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3 Responses to First Sunday of Lent: Embracing Generosity

  1. I have been thinking of the generosity angle…yes, if we give, we should not give with the expectation of return…Your grandfather certainly lived that indeed! God keeps on giving…sometimes we see it and sometimes our own hurts keep us from receiving it. I also think the more I free myself of “things”…the less burdensome my life is…the greater the possibility that I am emptying myself to be filled with God’s Spirit.

  2. Theresa Held says:

    “Let it go” Those words are powerful and greatly needed in our lives!

  3. I certainly feel like I am in the “desert” at this long moment in time…It has been a year since I had to end my teaching career of 34+ years…have surgery…get well…look for employment (still have not found any job)…my three daughters have “flown the coop”…my Mom died in my home 2 years ago…then my sister died 6 months later…everyone has moved on…and I sit at look at these empty rooms that were once filled with life…I am thinking that God is calling me to FIND Him/Her in my LIFE…it is the “dark night of the soul” for me…

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