Sunday, January 5, 2014

Gifts…

Starting with Black Friday and going on until the day after Christmas, it seems the holiday season is all about gift giving.  We spend a lot of time and money searching for the perfect gift.  Some of us spent too much time and too much money on gifts.  Others, tried to give gifts of love, or of service, or perhaps, they took the time to make handmade gifts.  I believe the ability to give good gifts is a gift in of itself.  I've never thought I had that gift.  Now, the holiday season is over, and I'm still thinking of gifts. I find that the best gifts cannot be purchased with money, and that the gift that is given from the heart means the very most.

 Tomorrow is Epiphany which occurs twelve days after Christmas.  For some in the world, Epiphany is a more important day on the Christian calendar than Christmas Day itself.    And yet, we rarely celebrate or acknowledge this day in the western world.  I seldom think of the importance of this day.  In fact, if I have the Christmas tree down, the wreath off the door, and the Nativity safely boxed up and put away twelve days after Christmas, then I pat myself on the back for getting my life and house back to normal in good timing after the holidays.

Today, I was reminded twice of the significance of the Epiphany.  First, I read on Facebook a posting written by a friend in Spain saying she had just seen the parade of the Three Kings.  Then, at church, we read scriptures about the significance of this day when the three wise men visited and brought gifts to Jesus.  We so often see our Nativity sets complete with shepherds and wise men that we forget that it required a length of time after the birth of Christ for the magi to find the newborn Jesus, and it required a journey that changed the direction the wise men would take after they encountered Him.

When I first read my friend's account of seeing the parade of the Three Kings in Spain, my mind went back to the classroom.  Every year on the first day back after the Christmas/Winter Break, I would have my freshmen and sophomores read a story by Sandra Cisneros called Three Wise Guys.  I love this story.  It is the story of a family from Mexico that now lives on the Texas side of river.  They received a very large box from a benefactor for Christmas.  The mama will not let them open the box until January 6, Three Kings Day.  There is much anticipation and speculation about the contents of the box that occurs before the day finally arrives when the box can be opened.

I will not tell you how the story turns out because I don't want to spoil it for you.  I did provide a link for you.  If you click on the title of the story in the paragraph above, you will be able to read the entire short story yourself.  It won't take long to read, but I think you will enjoy it.  I loved teaching this story for many reasons:
  • First, it was a story my classroom which was predominately filled with Hispanic students could connect with culturally and spiritually.
  • It is a story that is a delight to read because Sandra Cisneros' voice is clearly heard.  I love to read anything she writes.
  • It is a story about gifts.  Do we always appreciate them?  Do we understand the significance of the gift when it is given?
  • It is story about transcendence. 
In doing a bit of reading about the Epiphany, I found a poem written by T.S. Eliot entitled, Journey of the Magi.  I have provided a link to the poem where you can read it or listen to it being read by T.S. Eliot.

I love how Eliot speaks of the journey made by the magi in this poem, and how it was not a pleasant one, that they took.  I also love how he makes us ponder, along with him, the significance of the the encounter with what they found at the end of journey.  He speaks of no longer being content with the old dispensation.

And so, I begin the new year pondering the significance of the gifts with which I have been blessed.  Certainly, I have been given many.  I have a wonderful husband who showers me with material gifts and keeps me steady with his gift of emotional stability when I need it most.  I have a beautiful family.  One that has been fractured by grief.  One that needs time and grace to make the journey that we've been called to take into a land we never knew existed.  Mostly, as I begin this new year, I am grateful that I do not take this journey alone.  I have so many friends that give me encouragement along the way.  And, I have my faith.  That is the one great gift that I have been given.  

I have great plans for the new year.  I hope to see many of them accomplished.  I look forward to a new year filled with much joy and continued healing.  To my blogging friends, I say, Thank you for being on this journey with me.  You bring great joy to my life.  You have enriched my life more than I ever thought possible.  You are counted among the great gifts of my life.  

Since it is the first week of the new year, I do hope you won't find the greeting this video a bit too late.  I am sending it as my gift to you for Three Kings Day.  I do hope you enjoy watching it.  Happy New Year and Happy Three Kings Day!




If you have trouble opening the video from YouTube, go to:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhiF-PD4E_c#t=10  I hope this link works.

P.S.  I hope you will indulge me in allowing me to post some very old news in the next few days or weeks.  I will recount our Christmas holiday which included a journey to Utah.  Stay tuned...
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