What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
if I were a wise man, I would do my part;
yet what I can I give him: give my heart.
–Christina G. Rossetti
This is a season of gifts.
I get excited looking back again to those sleepy-eyed yet highly energized mornings, when I popped out of bed at first light to peep around the corner into the shadow of the tree.
Could it be – No. Have I really been good enough to get that G.I. Joe Deep Sea Diver Set this year? Of course not.
But there it is.
Why won’t they get up, for crying out loud? “Mom and Dad, it’s Christmas!”
I remember many of those treasures that glimmered in the tinsel and starlight of childhood Christmases. But the strongest recollections are not of trinkets and toys…
But laughter. Singing. Old folks’ stories. Pot-luck dishes. The warmth of hugs and held hands. The table set with a Mother’s care. A father’s generosity. The gifts given of love.
And I was centered in a circle of hearts, a poor boy playing his drum for the Baby King.
A Star was His candle. A manger His bed. Sing Noel, sing Noel…
Many of us are “poor” this time of year. It’s been a long time since we warmed ourselves by the fires of home. We are stressed. We have lost. We have spent down savings. We are sick and broken. We are faced with fears of uncertainty. We care for ones who no longer remember our names, our stories. We are disconnected from others, and from ourselves. Perhaps we are the ones who no longer remember.
Poor in spirit, we are fresh out of gifts.
But we’ve been given so much. Love’s good gifts have come to us unbidden, undeserved.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom…”
It demands no repayment. Yet the good gift must be passed on, must live on and grow in the giving. And it grows because we add, in gratitude, the very essence of who we are.
The best gifts contain part of the self of the giver. The true self, not the ego self. The ego only gives back to itself under the guise of altruism.
But the inner being is the giver of all things good and kind and gentle and meek. It is the soft singer with a Mother’s voice. The Father’s strong, safe hands. The wonder in the face of the cooing babe.
“The Kingdom of Heaven is within you…”
And endlessly in this Kingdom there is giving, and there is receiving…
That is the only gift that matters.
This year under the tree I found your gift–
the last one left unopened.
Inside its festive wrappings lay the gold of you:
music, story, art, food, prayer, a listening ear, tears shared,
laughter for a hurting heart.
And Christmas came at last.