My family is a medley of cultures so I have no idea if this sources back to a specific region of the world, or it’s something they made up entirely.
Never return an empty bowl.
It’s basically house law, a self-government I brought with me to prison. By the end of my time there, I would walk a bowl of food over to another cell. When I received it back later that night, it’d be washed, and there’d be something in it– a thank you note, a crayon, or a few packets of sweet-n-low. They didn’t have much, but it never came back empty.
Empty is a lot like dark. It is or it isn’t. A candle in a room makes it dimly lit, a crayon in a bowl makes it full.
The thought rewards the generosity, and it is rekindled in you both.
In a way, every bit of generosity that comes your way is your own opportunity to be generous even when– especially when– you feel as you have nothing to give.
Someone gave you a bowl full of something. In it, under the cookies or Top Ramen soup or apples, is a pile of grace. You are now are in surplus.
Give some back.