Sravasti Abbey Friends Education (SAFE) is a distance learning course that includes a weekly sharing by each participant. In Course 1A — Introduction to the Buddha’s Teachings / The Buddhist Approach to the Search for Truth— the December lesson focused on how mindfulness and introspective awareness contribute to a compassionate attitude. A student in Christina’s class submitted the following story. It’s a beautiful teaching for all of us. The writer — as you will see in the story — prefers to remain anonymous.
When I was a young adult, I discovered the Salvation Army and their annual Angel Tree program. Each tree is “decorated” with many hanging tags. Each tags lists a child’s name, age, size, and what they would like for Christmas.
That first year I took one tag for a little girl, as it was all I could afford. The second year I was able to buy for one boy and one girl. As my financial status improved over the years I bought more.
About a week before this last Christmas I realized that I had forgotten the Angel Tree children. I went to the Salvation Army store where there were still 98 tags that hadn’t been chosen. With every tag I read, my heart grew heavier and heavier. It was too difficult to choose which children to help, so I took all of the tags. I had no idea what I was going to do or how I was going to do it. I just knew that I could not leave those children behind.
Long story short, I raised two thousand dollars in a little over two hours. Two department stores gave me 20% off. People were curious when they saw me shopping and wanted in on it. I arrived at the Salvation Army store just as they were closing. Every tag had been bought for. They wanted to know who I was but I would not tell them. I had never felt more alive in my life. I was so full of happiness!
On Christmas morning I felt this joy again as I thought of all the Angel Tree children who would be opening their presents. I thought of what just a few people were able to accomplish by feeling compassion. It was the best holiday ever.
I feel so blessed to have had opportunities that have provided me with the knowledge of happiness through giving to others. I am so happy to have found the Abbey and this SAFE course. I can feel my heart again.