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Thoughts On Gifts

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Today is Christmas! Typically, we, as Americans, love to spend the holiday giving and receiving gifts.  This tradition can run the gamut of fun and festive, to stressful and overwhelming.  More on that in a moment. 

A Gift Out Of The Blue

Many months ago, I received a gift from a good friend of mine.  It was out of the blue, my favorite type of gift.  And it was a book, also my favorite type of gift.  “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer.

I am a very visual learner.  A few months back I was in a pretty dry place and finally picked up my book.  It was an epic life-changer of a book for me.  I can get pretty nerdy about reading great books.  I always read with a pencil.  There are so many amazing things to remember so I underline and dog-ear the pages like crazy.

Taking Notes

On my “Braiding Sweetgrass” adventure, not only did I underline on nearly every page, I also took notes.  On my wipe board.  In different colored markers.  It’s a somewhat chaotic representation of my journey.   Beginning parched and dry, seeking my place in the world while feeling irrelevant and uninspired.  Then moving toward revelation, insight, and connection.

Every time I walk into my office and see those notes, I feel glad and grateful.  I’ve thought about erasing them to make space for new notes, but for some reason, I’m not quite done with these ones yet.  The different colors go into very specific places in my brain, while the words go into my heart. “Let yourself be silently drawn by the pull of what you really love,” by Rumi.  In red.  The color of grounding and rootedness.  The color that fosters connections to our home and family, our place in the world.  “What do I really love?” by me.  In black marker.  Black.  The color of infinite possibility and incubating creativity. 

Those notes and colors swept me along on a river that led me to begin Writing Everyday.  An adventure that has revealed to me a great joy in writing and sharing.  An overflowing creativity that is wonderfully connective to my readers, and also, that is connecting me to myself.   Who knew that black and red could be so transformative?


Green:  The color of growth, transformation and change.  Also, of balance.  Some of my notes in green: “A gift comes to you through no action of your own, free, having moved toward you without your beckoning.  Your only role is to be open-eyed and present.”  The author, Robin Wall Kimmerer, is specifically speaking about our gifts as humans. The amazing presence (presents) we bring to the world to make it better and more beautiful. 

Truly, my journey through this book brought me to a deep understanding and gratitude of some of my gifts.  Specifically writing.  When I sit down and bring my attention to my deep self, mostly a river of words, musings and hopes to shine some light and love well up and pour out of me.  It is astonishing to me that I can do this nearly every day. Indeed, because of this, I have become very wide-eyed and present to the process.  A true gift.

Gifts Sometimes Carry Baggage

Speaking of gifts, today is Christmas.  We live in a culture nearly obsessed with gifts and presents.  There are so many expectations, and relational dynamics to navigate this time of year that giving and receiving can be truly overwhelming.  The joy of it replaced by stress and obligation.  The gift experience has mostly been commandeered by the marketers of the holiday season.  The once charming idea of hustle and bustle has risen to a manic level.

And yet, receiving a gift can be a wonderful thing.  Giving a gift can be a wonderful thing.  Many of us will have Christmas gift experiences today.  Some will be delightful and inspired.  Others will be disappointing and lonely.  This is the full gamut of the holiday experience. I would be willing to bet that most of us know that gamut well.

Gifts come in all shapes and sizes.  Some are wrapped finely with bows and great care.  Others are stuffed conveniently into gift bags.  Some gifts will be brand new little babies and their mamas getting to come home from the hospital.  Other gifts will look like quiet, and stillness.  A chance to rest and be present to an aching, wounded heart.  Some gifts won’t feel like gifts at all.

You Are Not Alone.

Mary Oliver, in her most kind and wise brilliance says this, “Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness.  It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”  These are very difficult gifts to receive.  Even if, eventually, light is able to shine through them.  I have received many boxes filled with darkness.  It is taking my lifetime, but I am learning to understand that these were gifts.  You are not alone.  You are so loved.

Today, I hope you find the gift that is truly meant for you.  Whether it is wrapped colorfully, or not wrapped at all.  I wish for you a sense that your life matters.  That you are, indeed, a gift.  And also, because you are so loved, there are good gifts coming to you.  Through no action of your own, they will be free.  Having moved toward you without your beckoning.  Your only role in receiving them is to be open-eyed and present. 

If you are in joy or pain today, if you are surrounded by loved ones or alone in silence, your life matters.  You are a gift.  Your presence here in this space with me is a true gift and I’m so glad we can be friends~

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