for John, Dalton, Sean, Erica Lee, Ezra, Erica Brooke, (and the March and Fall Celebrants too!)
This Eastertide season (slightly extended) this year is the most intense season of celebrations in our family: 3 anniversaries, three birthdays, a graduation, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, all in a matter of a few weeks. This year there are several banner occasions: 75th birthday and 20th anniversary and high school graduation, not to be taken lightly. And I, as the Cheerleader of Celebrations, get twisted up in giving just the right gift to each one for each occasion, the Perfect Thing!
Of course, out of my wrestling comes the realization that there is no “Perfect Thing” that can be given to each and every beloved one each and every time. Sacred text tells me that the only perfect gifts are given by God. Nevertheless, I keep trolling magazines and websites for ideas that suit the recipient, the stage of life, the need and my checkbook. There is not shortage of wonderful ideas and possibilities out there. It is not for lack of possibilities that I get stuck.
It is my ego-need where I get bogged down; I want my gifts to make the person I love respond with glee, gratitude and to be overwhelmed with this memorable and grace-filled present. No wonder I get jammed up! So it is with relief that I encounter and begin to appropriate the Jewish concept of mitzvah, giving a gift, according to some sources, for the good of someone else without expectation of reciprocity, notice or thanks. WELL! That re-frame the entire endeavor!
I have recalled many of the gifts given in Hebrew and Christian scripture: Joseph’s coat of many colors, the Queen of Sheba’s contributions to Solomon’s coffers, the expensive perfume with which Mary Magdalene anointed the feet of Jesus, the apostle Peter confronting the man who was lame from birth with these words: “Silver and gold have I none, but what I have I give you,” and he lifts the man up to full standing mobility. All of them are gifts that have complications in relationships, so I am not the first giver to be bemused in my giving.
What I am am being invited to do in this season of celebration and remembering is to open myself to each honoree–to see him as he really is, to listen to her conversation that gives me clues as to what she longs for, to be willing to share part of my own spirit of love and hope for him, to do what I can, and to let the results and reactions be whatever they are, no harm, no foul, no expectations—just open heart and open hand from me.
I read in 2 Corinthians that “God loves a cheerful giver,” and the corollary to that is the Holy One is able to provide me, the giver with “every blessing in abundance, so that I may always have enough of everything…” So I can go about the business of gift giving without anxiety, knowing that I will have what I need to celebrate my loved one–and others–with joy, with freedom, with trust and delight, despite the price tag, the competition with the other grandparents, the fear of rejection. It’s how I give, not what I give that makes the difference. And my heart is full of love for each and very one, with gratitude for what he and she have brought to me and our family, and with hope that what I offer will be a token of that love and gratitude for each one.
And I can give each gift with a blessing. My late friend Rabbi Sheryl Lewart in her book Blessings for Life’s Journey, gives me some words:
May you feel embraced, enfolded anew by the miracle of your being. May you find the deep purpose of your soul loved and cherished into becoming who you are meant to be… May you be a source of holiness for others, May you treasure and develop your uniqueness and be a blessing to all you meet. Amen.