Gifts

When treasure appears unbidden and unhoped for, I know that it is no accident. To find a potential friend in the Lord, when seemingly not searching or even needing one, I pay attention, for He will speak through that one, requiring only that I catch the ball he tosses.

Discovering what my Lord has for me, and identifying the “why” is only half the adventure. Across a lifetime I have come to really pay attention when God places a stranger squarely into the room of my heart. I used to shoo them away, only to find myself chasing after them, hoping to find them if I can. I have missed much treasure this way. I must say that I am much better now when God interrupts with this kind of gift. I only wish I could say that I am a roaring success. Getting better at it should read differently by now.

The goal is to interrupt myself, sit down, and open the package. I suppose this is some part of serendipity, but I reflect that all too often I have pushed incredible gifts aside, not seeing what I’ve been given except by hindsight. When I look back….something memoir enforces, I am appalled at what I so casually discarded. Like unwanted new clothes that I think don’t fit or enhance, I have dismissed valuable people in my life because of this selective blindness. I see it in retrospect. I recognize profound loss much more than shame. Shame is real, but loss is so intense I could weep.

Long ago, easily almost fifty years, I knew a young pastor so off the wall from traditional expected behavior that I almost missed him. But Chris was one of a kind. Everyone he met, absolutely everyone, was a gift he was anxious to open. He didn’t much care about the packaging. Just what was inside. His congregation was like Christmas in his mind, every Sunday morning. A room full of packages with interiors to be discovered.

Much of my life is about treasure I didn’t recognize at the time. Like a banquet of fab food and all I had to do was sit down with my fork and get busy. I admit to not always liking what was served. I admit to sometimes getting up from the table, walking away. I admit that other tables seemed more attractive, with better aromas, more exotic food. But always, I wandered back to my table. Sometimes the food was hard to swallow, or difficult to chew. I often discarded the proposed nourishment and left the table hungry. I had to learn to sample all the offerings. It was the only way to dessert.

Had I not learned this, I would have missed Chris. Nearly twenty years after his leaving he is perhaps the most alive person in my mind. I have known two electric people in my life. Chris and Grace. You knew Grace was at the party long before she got to where you were. The air in the space crackled. She woke in the morning vibrating with life. Good thing, too, because she was gone at the age of forty. She was a blockbuster kind of woman. Grace exuded energy even in her last days of illness.

My life has been filled with fantastic people. Sometimes I knew it while they were here. Others I had to learn after they were gone. All of them left their mark. All of them were incredible gifts. Each one a personal treasure. Chris and Grace were luxury. I still miss them.

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