Do I give to get? Do I get too much stuff?
Think of it. The clothes bought, the trees trimmed, the bargains, the books shared, our children's appearance, and their activities.
Do I parade new clothes for fun or praise? Are they merely an expression of my tastes or am I reaching for approval and honor?
Do I adorn my home to add to its comfort, to please my eye, and how it suits me, or is it a status symbol? (Don't get me wrong... my eyes delight in beauty and labors of love, but still I wonder.)
I think of these things when I walk down the aisles and see so much abundance. I enjoy the beauty of lush rugs, new colors of fabrics for windows or bedspreads. I feel the silkiness of a plush toy cat and smile thinking of a child hugging this while lost in her dreams.
I love the smell of spice laden candles that send their fragrance on ahead to meet me. French bread hot out of the oven woos me as I roll my basket near the cashier at the grocery.
But, then I think of children who sleep on the street huddled close to their mother for the night. What do I really need and why am I drawn to so many things? Why do I have to have so much when I cannot share these things with many outside of my circle of family and friends? What am I thinking? One more towel, or dish, or pans when there are families who want just a clear handful of germ free water to quench their thirst? What could I do instead that would make a difference to someone else?
I often think that is an insight to the ways of my Heavenly father. He is delighted to dream up new things for me to enjoy. He delights in me as he watches me discover new ideas, try new recipes, and cultivate relationships.
God has bestowed many gifts upon me in my lifetime, yet so many more are waiting for recognition and discovery. Most of gifts from God are actually mine for the sharing, not just for me to horde.
The reason I say this is more than just because of the obvious need that is out there, but because I think when we are in tune with a passion for life that is God given, we have a witness inside that is pure joy.
Musicians know the fullness of joy as they sing or play their hearts out. This joy spreads out beyond them to me who is within their hearing. They bubble over and it trickles down to me so that I too am warmed by it.
Artists stroke, chisel, weave, invent, shape, and in the midst they are lost in the imagination of the endeavor. Deep in the recesses of profound contentment. Lost to us as they find their center.
This is the spirit of the giver. This desire to give out and express. The random ideas for kindness that pop into the mind. Then when the giver takes a risk to follow through, they seemingly have lost all reason, but find and experience of deep joy.
A little embarrassed, the shopper explained to me that she could manage her own bill and that she had plenty of money to pay for it. I smiled, "No problem, it's just a little gift for you."
As I went to my car, I noticed this tiny woman I'd helped as she loaded small bags into her trunk. She looked up at me, then waved. I walked over to her.
"God just wants you to know that he loves you and that you are not alone. Can I give you a little hug?" She opened her arms with misty eyes and indulged.
I left with a smile on my heart that the Cheshire Cat would envy. This was not me... believe it or not, I am more reserved than this and quite shy. The warmth and joy I experienced was unexpected. I would have been content with the giving, that was all I wanted, but as I drove out of the parking lot, I felt that I was the recipient of the greatest gift... it was a rare moment.
I still get caught up when I am searching through shops... I love to browse like you, but I also stop and wonder how different my life would be if I would open my heart up more often to these giving moments.
Handmade gifts can be enjoyable to receive like granola, hot cocoa mix, dried soup mix, or just painting a ceramic mug. I spend more time thinking about the person while the project gives me needed therapy throughout the process.
So, when the rush and the crush of the crowds get me down, I stop and try to gain a better perspective. Meditating, I consider whether or not I am just getting stuff, or sending a true love message.
Give a back rub, ruffle the hair of your little darlin', offer unasked for assistance. Just be involved and attempt to be more present in the lives nearby.