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After reading today’s text from the lectionary (GN 16:6B-12, 15-16) about Sarai’s inability to have children and her acquiescence to Abram’s need for an heir, I found her decision to “give” her maidservant, Hagar, to him as his concubine rather surprising. Actually, it was her behavior after the decision that belied the seeming generosity of her decision. She was very abusive of Hagar when Hagar became pregnant! Serendipitously, without any effort on my part, (Does anything really happen “by chance?”) I opened Meg Wheatley’s book, Perseverance, and found the following:

Jealousy and generosity are reverse images of one another. In response to any circumstance, one or the other will arise, guaranteed. Since they inhabit the same space, only one can appear at any time; they cancel each other out. Jealousy arises as generosity disappears, generosity flourishes as jealousy is stilled…

As closely connected as jealousy and generosity are, they create very different consequences. If jealousy predominates, we turn inward, shrivel our hearts, and lose strength. If generosity grows, we grow also. Our world expands. We realize there is enough to go round…

The world expands from the inside out – it’s our hearts that have enlarged. We not only feel more loving, we’re also more open and aware. We see more, we take in more, we let in more.

Jealousy is such a waste of a good human heart. (p. 75)