It has been said throughout the years that a gift is in the eyes of the beholder. For what matters not what is in the gift but what it does to the receiver….what emotions it evokes, what it does to their soul. Does it send their spirit soaring?
To a dying man, a gift is a smile.
To a hospital patient confined to a bed, a gift may be hand delivered flowers to remind them that beauty lies right outside the door and someone cared enough to break a sprig of it inside!
On holidays, my favorite gift to give, when I travel and have to stop for gas, the attendant in the store that has to work the holiday shift, money out of my wallet, usually at least a twenty dollar bill. The look on their face, seeing it light up with surprise is priceless!
Getting a card from a stranger that just says they are sorry you are hurting, in pain or in sympathy for a lost loved one is a gift. Unexpected compassion from a stranger that wants not recognition but wants, simply to give you a piece of their heart…no strings attached!
A gift of priceless value is the gift of an organ. Being an organ donor gives life to so many others that might, otherwise, not have that opportunity to thrive.
I heard a priest say recently a gift is anything we do that causes someone else to have faith. Simply passing someone on the street and wishing them a nice day for no reason is hope. Helping someone cross the street that is feeble is respectful and gives praise to the life they have led. Giving someone that cannot bear children a child gives faith, that they can provide a child a loving home.
Some of the best gifts are the anonymous ones. I remember a friend that had to have an expensive procedure done when he was terminal with cancer. He reached out to his church family and asked for assistance. They all pitched in to help this man, this child of God, this dad of two small children, have one more chance to fight to live. When all the money was collected, the day it was all due to his home, a big envelope was found on the front porch. When he opened it, inside was a small note, signed anonymous donor. It was a cashier’s check for the entire amount that had been raised! Hence, all the money was returned to the donors but that check not only let him get the treatment but that gift instilled everyone associated with this man to realize God truly does work in mysterious ways!
The importance of gifts was even mentioned in the Bible. The New Testament tells the story of three wise kings that traveled from afar to bring a gift to the feet of the baby Jesus, while he lay in the stable in the manager. These were three wise men who knew that the scripture spelled out the birth of a king. They were in awe of the glory and when he was born, wanted to give a symbolic gift in reverence to him.
Our faith tells us to believe in our fellow men, our body of believers. But it also tells us we should shower others with our blessings. What good are riches if they are not shared? Hoarded riches serve no real purpose except to put oneself higher than others.
Riches are also not only monetary items. Spiritual riches can be anything that warms the soul, softens the spirit and instills God’s light into others. Giving of one’s time to elders in a nursing home is rich and a gift, to both the giver and the receiver. Rich is telling moralistic tales to children to help them see that good character breeds contentment.
To give is to receive. In tough times, when money is tight and time is a precious commodity in short supply, compel your heart to look around and take notice. Give of yourself if you can’t afford to give of your purse. Helping others makes us at one with God. The best gift in life IS the gift of giving.
I once worked with such a wonderful young spirited girl named Carrie. We quickly bonded and, in spite of our age differences, found we had so much in common, especially a love of laughter in our lives! We both worked in the high pressure business of printing and promotional products working with large corporations that wanted everything yesterday. We worked diligently, long hours and lots of stress and yet, still found time to share parts of our lives with one another.
Carrie had grown up in Middle Tennessee where I was a northern girl. When we started working together, she was a newlywed. Yes, she had just come back from her honeymoon and within weeks was interviewing and then offered the position. She worked as my customer service/project manager/back up sales person and did everything needed to help me be successful from making collection calls, to invoicing, trouble shooting, etc… I lost count of how many times I said to her “I would not want your job if it was the last job on earth!”
When I left that position, we remained in contact with each other. We kept communicating so we would know what was going on in each other’s lives. Never did a phone call or email slip between us without the words I miss you and I love you expressed.
I look back with fondness remembering the stories she shared, her husband’s surprise Christmas gift their first married holiday together, her first purchase for the new home. A beautiful couch she agonized on the perfect color combination to get and then went on to trying to decide what color she should use for throw pillows. She put her decorating questions to the test by asking each of us in the office our thoughts. Naturally, all being women, none of us agreed which only served to add more stress to Carrie’s decision! Her husband Greg was not into this sort of thing. I think his only requirement was to not incorporate pink!
The marriage had its usual share of ups and downs, misunderstandings, joy, laughter and tears. But over time this couple built a strong solid foundation upon which they were excited to bring a child into the picture. Greg had an adorable son from a previous marriage that Carrie spoke so fondly of also. She knew, after watching Greg’s parental skills with this young son, he would indeed make a wonderful partner for raising a child with her in the future.
Fast forward to present day. Carrie is eight months pregnant with a little boy soon to come and add laughter and mischief to the household. Baby showers are happening, friends are talking and getting excited. The world is waiting for that special moment, the miracle of birth.
In the real world, dreams sometimes get shattered in a way only God truly understands the whys. This story indeed has a major fork in the road. Greg went on a motorcycle ride the other night and did not make it home alive. His spirit will live on in his son and the son due in a month. His love will live on in his darling Carrie and all of us that are blessed to know Carrie, our wonderful spirited bubbly friend. But for a moment, the world will stop just long enough tomorrow and on Thursday to reflect on this young man’s live and family.
Greg, we thank you for your contribution to this world. We thank you for making our friend Carrie spill over with delight at your presence in her life. You had the ability to make her eyes light up with excitement and the rest of us were slightly envious with what we saw in Carrie. Thank you Greg for the love you bought into this world and may God keep you in the light of his presence. May God’s love be overflowing in you.
A moment will indeed come, in time, when you will be joined in heaven with your beloved Carrie and your two boys for all of eternity.
Click on title for link to obituary for Greg Van Dette.
The day you were born,
I never heard such a content sigh
Come from my sister Terri
As she gazed at your eyes.
Your eyes are pools of blue,
Reflecting adventure and wit,
They are keys to your soul
And reveal you cannot be licked!
No matter how you get kicked,
You will come back stronger!
You have tenacity girl
And a heart of gold,
So no matter how many years go by
Do not be afraid to be bold.
From the ends of your long blonde hair
To the tips of your toes,
God made every cell in your body,
And because of you he Rose.
May this year go by
And thru it all, feel God’s breath on your face...
I wish you joy, peace and laughter
And above all, heavenly grace.
Take my gift,
And please use it as you will,
Know that it is sent with much compassion and love
Since you, dear Lizi, are getting one step closer to over the hill!
Love knows no limits....has no boundaries....