Giving a heart

By Molly Butler

This week, we lost an incredible writer.

bell hooks was an astonishing person. Her work is accessible but challenging, hopeful but blunt. It’s the most honest reading on my bookshelf. I cannot begin to relay the lessons she taught me. She’s still waiting for you, on the page, if you have not yet met her mind.

hooks wrote about love, which I think more intelligent people ought to do. She said, “The moment we choose to love, we begin to move towards freedom, to act in ways that liberate ourselves and others.” She said, “A love ethic emphasizes the importance of service to others.”

‘Tis the season. We practice gift giving. We practice generosity. We practice love. But our culture is so cautious and timid and, frankly, paranoid about it. “Why would you pay for the person behind you in the drive-thru? Can’t you see they’re driving a nicer car than you?” “You paid for that woman’s groceries? You know that’s a scam, right? They bring their kids along, so you’ll take pity on them!” “You’re not supposed to give them cash! They’re just going to spend it on X, Y, and Z!” Listen-

Whether someone is lying or scamming or taking advantage, that is a reflection of their character. But how we choose to respond to a person who needs help says everything about us. Why is it, in this culture, we often decide it is better to be cruel than to risk…what? A little embarrassment? A little loss? The bottom line is, if we can afford to give, we can afford to give. And I believe the whole point of giving is to do it freely, without strings attached, without follow up, without expectations. We give with love.

If we want a loving world, we must take a risk. We have to choose the side of our heart which loves recklessly.

Are you willing to be that sucker? One of those naïve fools who gives a little carelessly? Who wastes their resources with nothing measurable to gain? All my favorite people are like that. All my wisest friends are that kind of fool.

bell hooks said, “With wisdom, you know it is not a battle between good guys and bad guys, but that the line between good and evil runs through the landscape of every human heart.” If we want a loving world, we must take a risk. We have to choose the side of our heart which loves recklessly.

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends.


Wrap up some holiday shopping this Friday at the Arts Center of Saint Peter, with their Holiday Market and buy-and-take exhibition of functional pottery. The Gustavus Adolphus College Senior Art Students Exhibit will be at the 410 Project from 2-6 p.m. Then, it’s Free Food Friday at the North Mankato Taylor Library. Stop by from 6:30-8 p.m. for free food as well as a gender-neutral white elephant gift exchange! Participants ages 9-17, gifts must be around $5. Register online to join in.

The Kiwanis Holiday Lights are up for your enjoyment this weekend, open 5-10 p.m. this Friday with walking and driving paths. Santa is coming to Omega Court this Friday from 6-8 p.m.! Stop by to enjoy the light show, say hello to Santa and Mrs. Claus, and keep an eye out for the Grinch and Cindy Lou Who! Hot chocolate and candy canes will be available while supplies last. The Mankato Playhouse presents Scrooge: The Musical, showing this Friday at 7:30 p.m. Get your tickets here!

Paul Stewart will perform at Indian Island Winery from 6-8:30 p.m., and Bullypulpit Bluegrass will be at the WOW! Zone from 6-9 p.m. Fat City All-Stars will be at Prairie Saloon & Grill in Kasota beginning at 8:30 p.m., and Red Dirt Road will be at The Square Deal on Front Street in Mankato beginning at 10 p.m.


Enjoy Breakfast with Santa at 8:30 a.m. or 10:30 a.m. at the North Mankato Taylor Library! Let Santa know what you want for Christmas, make crafts and take home a goodie bag! Register here to participate.

Everyone loves a personal touch to their Christmas gift. Becky’s Floral of Mankato invites you to their North Pole Express Cocoa Bomb Event! Beginning at 10 a.m., you can get Cocoa Bombs and Cake Pops, as well as stocking stuffers, last-minute gifts and treats! Then, head to Sota Sisters Boutique on Commerce Drive in Mankato for Authentic Jos by AJ Trunk Show! Ann from Authentic Joys will be there with her amazing jewelry. Get some Christmas shopping done, or treat yourself!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas here in Mankato! StoreIt Mankato invites you to their Winter Wonderland! From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., stop by to check out Mankato’s largest Christmas tree, live reindeer, get pictures with Santa and more! Santa will also be swinging by the Pet Expo from noon to 2 p.m. Kids and furry friends are welcome! From 1-4 p.m., enjoy Holiday in Old Town! Santa and his reindeer will be at Mom & Pops. Visit the gingerbread house at Bellisimo. Wooden Spoon will host Carolers, River Valley Makers and hand out free hot chocolate! There’s so much to discover so don’t miss out! Wrap up a beautiful day with a drive through the Kiwanis Holiday Lights, open 5-10 p.m.

As always, Mankato has great live music around town for you to enjoy. Becky Borneke and In a Bind will be at Indian Island Winery beginning at 8:30 p.m. Colin Scharf will be at the 410 Project beginning at 7 p.m., cover is just $5. The Mighty Zach Attack will be at the Wine Café from 7-9 p.m., and the “Scrooge: the Musical” will be showing at the Mankato Playhouse from 7:30-9:30 p.m.


The Farmers’ Market of Mankato will be at Drummers Garden Center from 10 a.m. to noon with local produce, crafts and treats. Curiosi-Tea House of North Mankato is hosting another vegan Sunday Dinner! This week’s menu includes pancakes, fruit salad and pepper hash. While you’re there, grab some great gifts for the tea lovers in your life, and check out their new vegan pantry!

Catch “Scrooge: the Musical” at Mankato Playhouse, showing from 2-4 p.m., or head to the Ted Paul Theatre for the Symphonic Series: The Snowman, beginning at 3 p.m. Tickets to the symphony are available here. Finish off a festive weekend with a drive or walk through the Kiwanis Holiday Lights, open 5-9 p.m.

Added Value: Why Read?

“Life-transforming ideas have always come to me through books. Even when profound experiences alter my sense of reality, those lived moments usually return me to ideas I have read or lead me to further reading.” -bell hooks

This is for all my fellow bookworms, especially the ones who, like me, can keep adding books to the cart, pile up the bookshelf, then get caught up in work and Netflix and chores and life, forgetting to make time to read. A well-written book is a communion with another person’s mind. The value is truly priceless. It is such a gift.

The new year is approaching: if you’re feeling a little flat, and the “to read” pile is turning into a mountain, perhaps it’s a good time to make a resolution to return to a reading habit. Never once have I regretted opening a book.


Weekend High Notes is a regular feature by Molly Butler. Molly covers weekend events, live music, and culture in the Greater Mankato Area. Suggestions are welcome using the MankatoLIFE contact form.