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Mom doesn’t have too many requirements, just no black mugs. I pour her tea in a white mug and come to the table for our last breakfast of her trip together.  Time flew by and I am feeling heavy in the heart that she is leaving.

She looks out the window and remembers how during one of her trips in Iran she saw the moon on one side of the road and the rising sun on the other.

I smile but mom sees through me.

“When I’m feeling down, I try to think about upcoming plans,” she says.  “What’s the sense of being sad.  I think about making the house beautiful.  Maybe put a candle on the table.  I think about what I can do for others. One of my plans for next Ramadan is to donate food to a mosque for the needy.  But my big project with your father is to build a library in a village north of Iran.  Dad wants to do something to keep the young kids out of trouble, like a sport center, but I think the library is easier to accomplish.”  She starts drawing a square.  “All you need is four walls with a ceiling. The village carpenters can then build bookshelves and a desk.  That’s it.  I will do the work of getting book donations.”

By now I’m too busy admiring my parents than feeling heavy.  That’s the beauty of generosity.  You move beyond yourself.

She goes on:

“If everyone does a small act for others, the world becomes heaven.  When you have the means, help the ones around you, your family, friends, and then just expand the circle.  Don’t discount people because they don’t have the same beliefs as you.”  She quotes her favorite saying by a Persian sufi, Sheikh Abol Hassan Kharaghani:

“To any soul who walks on the earth, give bread and don’t ask of his faith, for he who in the eyes of the divine is worthy of breath, is in this world undoubtedly worthy of bread.”

I nod, this time with a genuine smile.

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