One of Charles Eisenstein’s soulful posts on gift economics inspired me to start a gift circle in my neighborhood. I wish I could say that this gift circle was composed of only my neighbors! That goal remains a dream. At this point, about a third of those in our circle live near me.
My call for a gift circle was made only one month ago. Last night, we held our third potluck and gift circle meeting, here at my home. About a dozen folks gathered, plus four wonderful children, to eat together, look through the pile of stuff brought for giveaways, and then settle down, in a circle, for what is already becoming a very orderly and loving personal sharing of this week’s gratitude, of our offerings and our needs. Each of us speaks in turn, telling first of gratitude for what we have received from the group (for example, I thanked Doug for caring for my dog Shadow and Lucy for caring for my kitty and bunny during my three days away). Next we mention what we have within ourselves to give for this week (my offer remains the same, astrological readings for anyone in the gift circle and hosting our meetings; later I also mentioned that I’m pretty good at helping people process life transformations of any kind, and at critiquing project ideas). And then we say what we need for this week (I will still need help organizing my basement, but am putting that project on hold for now).
We also speak more generally about what this gift circle is helping us do, feel grateful, not just to individuals, but to the group. Through our process together, we gain a feeling of gratitude for the blessings in our lives and recognize the enormous, unending blessings that human beings yearn to offer one another.
One member told of how he had been holding “scarcity consciousness,” for months, and all of a sudden had decided to just start waking up each day with no expectations, simply an attitude of trust that all would be well, and a sense of expectancy as to what the universe had to offer him that day. He said the change was remarkable and instantaneous, and he now speaks of his life, warmly, as “in the flow.”
We also spoke of the whole idea of demonetizing. How many exchanges take place in our lives that use money, but need not? We realized that in our gift circle we are moving from the culturally-sanctioned attitude of the one-to-one negotiated exchange (either with money or through trading), to trust. Once we trust the universe, and realize that we depend on one another, we start gifting. It comes quite naturally. As each of us expresses ourselves fully into the world, the world opens, begins to blossom endlessly, giving and receiving, across to the far horizon.
At one point, Aaron brought in a huge bag of packaged cheeses and salami that he had found dumpster diving at a local grocery store, all with very recently expired sell-dates. And he showed us his beautifully hand-made flutes, and said he is willing to make one one for anyone in the group.
Anna brought a big bag of beautiful little beads, which Maeve, a beautiful little nine year old immediately began to pour through, enthralled. Painstakingly, she divided them into two equal bags, so that I could give one of them to my eleven year old granddaughter, Kiera, who will also love them.
(Later, Mary emailed me to say she was sorry she couldn’t be there, but said to tell Maya that Abby, a musician, would be glad to give eleven year old Maya the drumming lessons she has been asking for. She also said to tell Colin she hasn’t forgotten his need for someone to prepare meals for him and his girl friend and her two sons.)
Christine took notes, and her hand was flying thick and fast. So much was offered — labor for gardening and other projects, hand-made leather shoes, a truck and trailer for hauling, pet grooming, on and on. I’m glad we’ll have her write-up soon, so we can remember what we said we’d give, and how grateful we already are for this wonderful new sharing in our lives.
Next gift circle, two weeks from now, March 25. New people welcome! As the Gift Circle grows, we will begin the process of mitosis. I have a sense that gift circles will start to sprout up within neighborhoods as potent little seeds of infinitely regenerative possibility within the apparent scarcity of our terminally-stagnant and failing, monetized, privatized, so-called, inflating, wage-slaving, “fiat money” economy.