Gifts come in different wrappings

Published 10:54 pm Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I want to follow up on last week’s column about giving. I want to share an experience with you. It touched and enlightened me. I hope it touches you.

As my family sat around the dinner table after a good meal, I asked the question, “What is it that you would like me to give each of you that is not material?”

My 12-year- old grandchild wanted the gift of a 15 minute phone call each week “so we can talk about some things.”

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Another person said, “mentorship.” Even though this person was grown, they had never had a mentor. The need was still there.

Another said, “I have my gift. We just have to get back to it.” The gift is a weekly lunch or breakfast date where we talk about the “art of leadership.”

Another wanted an ongoing dialogue on “purpose in life.” He said he felt like I had been a mentor but we had not explored purpose and it was important to him.

Another wanted my advice without my probing questions. I believe that so many decisions are, as the old folk say, “six in one hand and a half dozen in the other.”

Another wanted patience and understanding. It was pointed out that I show great patience and understanding with so many people but not this person.

But this is about giving what is needed, not judging the need or judging whether the need is being met. It’s about the person in need, not me. If the person does not feel the patience and understanding, there is still a need. Therefore I resolved to give.

One of the basic questions is how do we manifest patience and understanding in disagreement. The true test of patience and understanding is for me to help the person feel that I’m with them although I disagree with their position.

Giving material things are easy for us for they are concrete. Giving what is needed comes in different wrappings. We must see beyond the wrappings.

I have since asked several others what I could give to them that was not material in nature. I was surprised by the answers. I wish I had space to share the responses. However, I will say one person asked for weekly spiritual lessons from the Bible.

There may be more sharing in the near future.