Have you ever reacted in this way upon receiving a gift? This reaction suggests surprise, perhaps even a sense of wonder at one's worthiness of the gift.
I have a loved one for whom the present, as in the here and now, is generally viewed with a sense of wonder at her worthiness of such a gift. She has had a difficult life by any measure. Hearing her story invokes sympathy for a person having endured so much, and also helplessness for the inability to change it for her. Alas, the past cannot be changed. Which is what makes the present, the here and now, an even greater gift. For the present is a gift (or 'present') of a new beginning, a new opportunity, a new chance, a new time, a new go at life. If one embraces the present as 'a present', and believes in one's worth for the magnificent gift it is, the love in which it was given will be felt, and joy will follow.
A Present? For Me? How wonderful! Thank you.
On this 12th day of Christmas, Christians celebrate the Epiphany of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem to the three kings. "We three kings of Orient are . . ."
Our family's nativity resides under our Christmas tree; my husband's family began the tradition as a reminder that the true gift at Christmas is the birth of Jesus. My stepfather fashioned our nativity figures from wood and engraved the detailed faces by hand. During these dark days of winter, I cherish quiet time gazing into those faces, lit only by the lights of my Christmas tree. I sense their wonder and delight. The animals' faces are peaceful, for a stable is home. The shepherd's expression reveals comfort, grateful for shelter. The countenance of the angel is tenderly joyful. The gaze of Mary, mother of the new babe, as well as that of her faithful husband, Joseph, is adoring. All as one would expect. And what of the three kings? It doesn't seem so obvious that their gaze would be full of admiration and reverence. After all, they were wise and prominent and wealthy. Why, then, would they have been so taken by this infant born in secret to common folk? It is believed that they had been studying the celestial patterns and knew that the star they followed was to take them to this new king. And they believed. And they followed. And they brought gifts. ". . . bearing gifts we traverse afar."
The kings brought gifts of gold (most precious metal), frankincense (incense), and myrrh (an embalming oil) to a newborn prophesied to be the new king, the great king, who would rule with love. Their gifts were given as an expression of respect and love. Magnificent! May we follow in the footsteps of the three wise kings and bear respect and love in all we do, trusting that we will be led to the perfect light of love and joy in the world. "O star of wonder, star of night, Star with royal beauty bright, Westward leading, still proceeding, Guide us to thy perfect light."
On our family vacation, my nephew asked me this question. I had been thinking about turning 50 quite a bit during the past year, and despite the fact that the day (today) was only a few days away, had not formulated a response, not even in my own mind. Not a formal one anyway. But he asked, and I needed to respond. And I felt pressure to give the right response, because as an almost 18-year-old, soon heading off to begin his own adult life in college, he really wanted to know how it felt to be turning 50, an age that sounds old, perhaps?
I confessed that I had been contemplating that very question, because it was true, and because it gave me another moment to consider my reply. Then I took a deep breath and said, "I am grateful for my first half century of life, for it has been a gift, and I look forward to my next half century." He tilted his head a bit, smiled and seemed pleased. I think it gave him comfort to know that I regard this milestone, often despised as growing 'old', as an achievement I cherish and view it as a step on my continued path of 'life', a celebratory moment on this journey of mine to live joyfully for as long as I am given the opportunity to do so, perhaps for a second half century (or more?).
Happy 50th Birthday to me!
author of "JOY"