Wednesday, 21 March 2012

How long is a gift?

Not just one rose – a whole BUNCH of gorgeous yellow roses graces my kitchen table in a tall, slim glass vase today! They are sisters, it seems, with this unexpectedly hot and glorious spring sun shining in through the windows. Their beauty and perfection restore my soul, and their colours bring joy: Golden petals atop lively green stems, green through glass, glass on black slate, slate upon unvarnished wood. And as a gift from my love, and adorning a kitchen made sparkling for me by the joint cleaning efforts of my two beloved ones together, they shine extra brightly. They are simple beauty and vibrant colour, and they are love and togetherness expressed in action.

It’s amazing to me that, when my heart is open, such simple things can fill me up so deeply and wholly. Any empty days, any bottomless pits, recede into the distant past, and I know my cup to be overflowing.

But for how long? Till the kitchen loses its sparkle? Till the flowers wilt? Or perhaps sooner – simply till my heart hits a low point, a bare place, and demands to be lifted and filled again?

I remember those Harvard students who arrived so grateful and excited for the privilege of studying in the hallowed halls, but whose gratitude was quickly lost in the stress and strain, the deadlines, dramas and dilemmas. The question struck me then, on hearing Shawn Achor’s story, and hits me again on seeing my roses:

How long is a gift a gift? How long does it last? How long can any significant privilege or simple pleasure bring joy and open the heart to love?

As long as it is remembered and treasured as a gift? As long as the gratitude lasts?

If that is true, imagine the possibility of a soul staying full forever on one gift, forever held with gratitude!

True, for those with eyes to see, each day brings new gifts, and we can notice and count each new one and be filled afresh each time. But when does the search for NEW gifts become dissatisfaction with the OLD ones? And if I am always NEEDING the new and fresh to be filled, won’t I always remain a leaky bucket?

For this I certainly am: full one moment and drained empty the next.

But I want to CONTAIN it – the joy and love and mercy – and treasure it and pour it out like precious perfume; rather than leaking it and losing it and throwing it away. And surely it is this attitude of treasuring that is the key – not the nature or age of the gift received or given, savoured or recalled.

In fact, it’s not even really about the gifts themselves at all, but the heart open to the Grace that flows through the gifts and that is their source. It’s the state of the eyes of my heart that make the difference. “If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light,” said Jesus (Matthew 6).

I long for these eyes – eyes healed by Grace, eyes open to the true Treasure. For where my treasure is (and, yes, amazingly, it’s right there in the same passage – the same message!) there will my heart be also... There will my heart be full to overflowing, whether the roses flourish or fade.

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