"The meaning of life is to find your gift.
The purpose of life is to give it away.”
I have to admit that every year during the Christmas season I go through a period of sadness when I look around and witness the commercialism taking over the true meaning of a blessed holiday. I have to pray to focus my mind and my heart on the fact that I do not have to get caught up in all of it. I have to ask God to remind me that the gift-giving (that definitely gets carried away) is a symbol of the real gift we all have in our midst; that gift is Jesus given to the world and to each one of us. It is a time of year to be reminded that the most precious gift we can give is the gift of ourselves to one another—loving each other the way that he taught us.
Two years ago, I visited a woman in the nursing care unit where I served as the Chaplain. She was a younger woman who had lost the use of her legs and was unable to care for herself in her home. She had lost her freedom and independence and even had to rely on aides to take her to the bathroom. She told me that in addition to losing all she had already lost, she felt as if she lost her dignity as well. She was very depressed. She heard about a bus trip that was offered to see the Christmas lights and thought maybe it might cheer her up so she made the decision to go.
The day after the trip when I walked into her room, I couldn’t help noticing the glow about her. She couldn’t wait to tell me about the trip. She said there was an older woman who sat next to her that she had seen many times in the hall and in the dining room who never smiled and always looked grouchy. She said the lights were so beautiful and they brought her so much joy that when she looked over at the grim face of the woman next to her, she gave her the biggest smile ever and was completely overjoyed beyond belief when the woman smiled back at her—the most beautiful smile she had ever seen. She told me: “It may not seem like much but it was a sacred moment for me because my smile made her smile and I realized I still have something to give.”
Even in the midst of her own pain and sadness, this woman offered something of herself: the sparkle in her own heart that reflected on her face that warmed the heart of another. The power of Jesus that lived within her came shining through and brought light to another who needed it. It also opened my eyes to the ways that God works in and through all of us in powerful instances such as this one. Sacred moments are often disguised in what may seem to be simple moments. If we keep our eyes, ears and hearts open, we will recognize them and even be a part of them.
We all have gifts to give that cannot be bought with money and they are gifts that are priceless. Advent is a time of preparation to celebrate the greatest gift of all—Jesus. How can we do that well in the midst of the hectic season coming up? How we can defend against the commercialism of Christmas? Here’s a suggestion: take the time to sit down and to recognize your own gifts, make a Christmas list of those precious qualities that God gave you and then…work on giving your gifts away!
Let’s make it a blessed and beautiful Advent and Christmas season!
Peace and Love,