I listened to the conversation – the one that always comes up this time of year, the one spawned by the desire to connect, to share love, to let someone know that they matter in this season of giving.
We want to let each other know that we care and that no one is forgotten.
So we visit with gifts and inspiring messages. We hope to inspire and to lift the spirits of those who we think are lonely or invisible, homeless or forgotten by family members. Our hearts crave that feeling of having done something that makes another smile.
But I had a thought as I listened to the brain-storming of how to “do that” this year. In the conversation, buried just below the surface was an assumption – a belief that people are lacking and we can fill a gap with our giving. I did a quick exercise of putting myself in the seat of the receiver and suddenly knew what was “lacking.”
For a second I went back to the story of the Wise Men that is retold many times during this season. They arrive with gifts for the Christ child. But he had no need of those things. Instead he had a gift to offer them.
He wanted to be known. Their journey brought them face to face with him. The gifts were actually a prop -an excuse to give the more import exchange room to grow.
If we take that story and apply it in our lives this season and year round, we’ll be giving the greatest gifts.
When we walk in to a nursing home bearing treats we’ll learn to sit and listen to life stories, looking for the gifts that a person brought to the world personally. Who are they really? What did they come here to do? What did they do with their gift? What stories do they have to tell? We’ll anxiously probe until we find that gift, drawing it out of them until they feel like it has been seen and received.
We will sit with a child after giving him a gift and wait. We’ll follow his lead and talk about and do what he wants to do during our time together and look for his gifts. Hopefully we’ll tell him what he means to us and how he brings us and the rest of the world joy because of who he is.
And because we go to them and others with the intention of finding their gifts they’ll receive our real gift: true love.
Love that says:
“I see you.”
“I value you.”
“Thank you for being here.”
“I love who you are.”
I hope that we turn Christmas around this year and instead of just giving gifts we actively search for and receive each others’ gifts.
It makes all the difference.