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Gifts from the HeartDecember 22, 2014
Each year, on the birthday of the Founder of my Faith, I ask, "Beloved, what can I give you?" I have had some pretty interesting answers. One time in meditation after asking the question, I saw Him walking away from me. I was puzzled and then he turned, and looked at me over his shoulder. He said, "All I ask is everything." That was one interesting year!
Since Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the question arises, what gift can each of us offer Him? The Magi brought gold, frankincense and myrrh, very precious at the time. What value do we have to give?
I have always loved the story of the widow's mite. It is a good reflection for this season, when some have so much and others so much less. "Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything - all she had to live on.'" (Mark 12: 41-44). "The Gift of the Magi" by O'Henry is a short story of a poor couple who were rich in love. The young wife sold her beautiful knee length hair to buy her husband a chain for his watch, and he sold his watch to buy her combs for her hair.
The nature of sacrifice is mysterious. It is as if when we give something that is of great value to us, God matches or amplifies that gift. These days, most people don't have money to spare. Truthfully, to sacrifice money that the family needs for basic expenses of food, clothing, and utilities is not wise. However, we all have something to give, something to sacrifice, which means "to make sacred".
The Baha'i Writings say, "Be generous in prosperity and thankful in adversity." This is the season for gift giving, so what can we give?
Those who have lost loved ones often find a new wave of grief rising up at holiday times. Giving them a visit or a calling to ask "How are you really?" and allowing them to empty their cup is a gift both precious and all too rare.
We can give the gift of our presence to someone who is lonely.
We can give a listening ear to an elder who needs to tell their story and then tell it again.
We can do a service for people unable to do it for themselves, such as shopping, shoveling snow, or clearing a yard.
We can get on the floor and play with a toddler.
We can take an interest in what an older child is doing.
We can cook something special for our family.
We can thoughtfully offer a gift to a neighbor.
Just as the widow's sacrifice was precious, so are the gifts of our time, our attention, our money, or our love. This special season reminds us that God loves a cheerful giver, and that "whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully" (2 Corinthians 9:6).