Generosity – A Desert Wisdom Card

Completion - A Desert Wisdom Card

Seed Pod © 2013 Bo Mackison

“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”
  ~ Kahlil Gibran

The four chambers of the seed pod are empty.

The seeds are scattered, and the earth is gifted with the possibility of new life. The seed pod has done its part.

Nature supports us with no request for thanks. The seeds open. The sun rises and sets. Plants grow, flower, set fruit, set seed. The seeds are dispersed, the cycle continues.

“For it is in giving that we receive.” St. Francis of Assisi

When we give of ourselves, when we give from our heart, we pass on our gifts and in doing so we also are the recipient.

The gift to oneself is in the giving — no expectations, no reciprocity, no keeping score. How our gift is received is not within our control, nor is it the reason for gifting. True generosity is unconditional generosity.

The wise man does not lay up his own treasures. The more he gives to others, the more he has for his own. ~ Lao Tzu

GENEROSITY offers questions/reflections for journal writing, art activities, calls for action:

  •  Time is a precious commodity, perhaps even more so than money. The pithy advice from Ben Franklin – “Time is money.” – encourages us to value productivity. But sometimes wasting time is exactly what we need. Thich Nhat Hanh offers this life recipe: “Smile, breathe and go slowly.” Consider stretching a five-minute walk into a ten-minute walk simply for the experience. No reminders to smell the roses, practice mindfulness – simply walk at a slower pace and notice what happens. A tiny gift of generosity to oneself primes the pump to practice generosity.
  • Generosity with one’s thoughts requires no planning, no financial encumbrance. Mental gifting of a blessing, a prayer, a kind thought reaps benefits for both the giver and the recipient. A simple Buddhist teaching, the Metta Chant, offers generous thoughts for all. “May all beings be well and safe, may they be at ease.” It is easy to remember and repeat frequently, although it can be a challenge to apply this gift to all equally.
  • Consider adopting a practice of generosity. Abandon a gift — a handwritten copy of a poem, an uplifting message, a small piece of art — where someone will unexpectedly find it, perhaps on a bench or hanging from a low branch of a tree. Attach a note of explanation that this is a gift for the finder.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC.  Bo is creating a deck of Desert Wisdom Cards for exploration and discovery, using a Sonoran Desert theme – its myths and stories, cultures and heritage, and the desert’s remarkable natural beauty and resources.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Gandalf says:

    I’m very much intrigued with this post. Your last exercise is a simple easy way to perhaps make a difference to someone, someplace. I like it.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Thanks, Gandalf. There are quite a few groups that do art abandonment including a fairly large Wisconsin group. I’ve left a few things, but never stayed around to see who found them. It’s a fun thing to do, just knowing someone will have a nice thing happen during their day.

  2. Bo, I really love this one. First of all, the Gibran quote is wonderful food for thought, especially in this time of material excess. I have to admit that I would like to be more generous with my self. I’m in a time of life when it feels like everyone wants a piece of me, and I’ve become stingy with my time and effort. I prefer to think I’m being “highly selective” or “setting boundaries,” but that may not always be true–sometimes I’m just feeling a lack and I end up being less generous than I’d like. A great topic for me to consider.

    I also love your suggestions for generosity activities. I love all of them, but I think the first one I’ll try is the idea of practicing being more generous with myself in small ways like staying out a little longer on my own desert walks. I think that will help me feel more generous toward others because it will address those feelings of lack. It’s a desert variation on putting on your own oxygen mask first. 🙂

    Can’t wait for your cards to be available!

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Thanks, Sue. I am so pleased that this card really resonated with you. And the desert series of cards may be out sooner than I first thought. I’m making an appt with a local business to make a prototype! Yes!!!

  3. I really like that idea!

  4. A beautiful image. I especially like the subdued colors and the many textures. Generosity is difficult for me.

  5. Random acts of kindness – anonymously – is fun and so rewarding, internally speaking. A boost to the soul and easy to do. Great card – love this one.

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