Gift Number One: Walking!
I can walk without pain! Two weeks ago, Friday, I got that puncture wound (see the Gift of Pain) and by this past Friday I could walk without pain! I have immense empathy for those with pains which haven’t healed as quickly as this one. To walk is such a gift!
Gift Number Two: Beauty
On Friday morning, I visited the Japanese Garden. I went early in the morning. It was a rainy day. The air was cold around 40° but the garden was spectacular. I was astounded at all the many, varied shades of green that makes the Japanese Garden exquisite. In addition, the stone decorations and rock walkways added to the beauty.
Gift Number Three: Masks
One thing I was prepared to be frustrated with coming to the garden was the prescription of having to wear face masks even outside. But in the cold weather and the rain, a mask became a surprising gift! Who knew I would ever say that. Somebody, write that down!
Gift Number Four: Steps
Wandering the garden, I was struck with these stone steps.
Have you noticed how many pathways are uphill in life? These steps are of varying heights, just like in life, every step is dissimilar. This makes our climbs all the more challenging. We sometimes trip on such steps! Good visual reminder.
Gift Number Five: A Speeding Ticket
Back in October I got a speeding ticket. Not the kind when you actually get pulled over by someone, but the kind mailed to you when caught by the speed light in an intersection. I was excited to see our daughter and was late in leaving to meet her flight. In addition, I was listening to a great book All the Light We Cannot See, which is one of the best-written books I’ve encountered. So, I was engrossed. When I told others which light caught me, they told me how they had gotten tickets at the same intersection.
One way to slightly reduce the cost of the ticket was to take an online driving class. So, over the month of November, I completed this class. I watched too many videos of tragic accidents, read material, answered quiz questions and passed. I learned so much and was reminded of what I knew but didn’t always give heed! But the true gift? I became convinced of my need for a cell phone holder for my car and got one. I am grateful for this daily, really. It is such a gift. I wonder why I took so long to get it!
Gift Number Six: Relationships
I took free copies of my book around to my neighbors this weekend. The responses surprised and astounded me. One woman, Molly, got tears in her eyes. “For me?” She exclaimed. After I told her yes, she hugged the book her floral print dress, wiped a tear, smiled at me, delighted. It was as if she had never received a gift.
Another neighbor, Dave, has never said many complete sentences to me in my time as his neighbor. He is the ultimate introvert. But, when I told him how I had written a book, he looked me in the eye with his grey goatee and smiled saying, “Congratulations! How did you publish it?” And wanted to hear all about the process. “What’s this?” he asked as he noticed a small piece of paper inserted at page 182. “Oh, those are the two paragraphs which did not make it into this printing!” I responded.
He laughed so hard. “That is just great!” he said, “Good job! I am proud of you! I am looking forward to reading it.”
“Let me know what you think,” I said.
As I stood talking with another neighbor, as she stood in her doorway, her grandkids behind her, she said, “Now, what’s this book about again?”
I told her, and then she turned over the copy in her hands and said, “Shut up! That’s your picture. You wrote this?”
“Yes, I told you I did,” I laughed.
“You wrote a book? Brian! This is so exciting!”
“I thought so. That’s why I wanted you to have a copy!”
Laughter, tears, connections — we need relationships. Each is a gift. Keep available to connecting with others. Love others. Reach out. Let others know they are valued and needed. Every action of connection is vital.
Gift Number Seven: Laughter
This coming August, Karen and I will mark 40 years married! It seems astounding to us as well. We never should have been able to make it this far except by God’s grace. We do put in the work, too. We believe this thing called marriage takes constant attention. But, in addition to committed work, a marriage is sustained by laughter. We laugh a lot!
I was carrying a cookie sheet piled with four whole chickens oiled and spiced for the Traeger. I was heading for the back sliding door. Karen went ahead of me, opened it for me to pass and as I did, I said, “Would you remind these chickens to stay right where they are on this cookie sheet?”
Immediately, she looked down at the fourth chicken, precariously stacked upon the others and said, in a small, little person, very serious voice, “Now you stay right there, you hear? No moving, jumping or skedaddling.”
I laughed so hard I nearly dropped them all! But didn’t!
Laughter is a lubricant in life. It eases stress and brings relief. We return to it often.
Gifts are all around us even and perhaps especially in such difficult seasons like now. What gifts are you seeing?