When I talk to anyone about Duncan and ask what he was like, I hear all kinds of stories, but everyone always ends up talking about how generous he was. Duncan was many things to many people, but all agree about his great heart and that he really did have a soul of generosity.
Duncan was the original Jack. Jack, like Duncan, is many things – quick-thinking, self-reliant, adventurous – but at his core, he is generous. So many stories start with Jack’s mother giving him the choice of ‘Take a whole bannock with my curse, or half a bannock with my blessing’.
Jack would never take the whole bannock – the curse or blessing is almost irrelevant – he would never take extra for himself, to leave his mother with less. When Jack sits down to eat his half bannock and a stranger appears, he shares his meal without thought or hesitation. It’s an accepted line in a story. It rolls off the tongue and we accept it as part of the formula. I think it’s rare that the storyteller or listener ever stop to think about it very much, except that Jack has followed story protocol and will probably be rewarded for it later. But when you do stop and think, it is an enormous act of generosity, done without regret or bitterness. Jack shares his food with a smile. They sit, eat, talk and share company together and when Jack walks on, he has nothing left in his pockets. Whatever happens later in the story, this is the act of a hero. He has no idea where or when he will next be able to find something to eat or drink. He has faith in the world and his own abilities. When tomorrow comes, when hunger comes, then he will deal with it. How many of us could do that? Share our last meal and not begrudge the giving of it in some small part of ourselves? Continue reading “Generosity: A True Act of Heroism”