Would you like it "gift wrapped"?
I recently bought a friend of mine a candle for her birthday… the packaging was beautiful but I especially loved the words, "a sensual floral bouquet with mild aphrodisiac properties that will captivate the senses and enhance intimate conversation". Wow- who knew a candle could do all of that?
Our culture is fixed on packaging and the timing of it. We have been raised to believe the "big events" are the most important and sometimes miss the unexpected quiet ones in our haste. Living life in this accelerated pace, waiting for the next big event, sets up the possibility that our expectations surpass reality. We sabotage the gifts that await us if we don't slow down and take the time to unwrap the moment.
First of all, I love "Bean". In his illustration above, I love that each layer of the wrapping covers and enhances the gift. If we live life in reverse and begin to appreciate each layer and peel it away slowly, it allows us to engage each of our senses… the aroma of the moment.
In the spring of my sixth grade year in elementary school, I was one student in 3-4 classes that was suppose to go to "Science Camp". From Sept-March, the curriculum built toward the culmination of science camp. I was not academic so I mostly looked at it from a social experience. Who would I room with, what relationships would develop? I was not entirely prepared when at the last moment, I was among a handful of 8-10 kids that would not be going to science camp. My parents couldn't afford the trip (scholarships were not popular in the 1970's) or maybe my parents "feared" me leaving home. Whichever was true, the reality was still the same. Gina was on the list of students not going.
Not going to Science camp did not give you a "hall pass" from school. Each of us still had to go to school and I remember that first day's walk to school was the hardest. I certainly did not need one more reason to be "singled" out in a group of "misfits" but the road that day was a tough one. The other sixth graders would be absent from school a full week. Academics were always difficult for me so the prospect of a world of worksheets and difficult reading assignments made the daunting task ahead a worrisome one- or so my expectation seemed.
Close to forty years later, time, experience and God's hand of grace that week and again years later have caused that one week of missing science camp to be among my best memories. God sees us from the inside out, years ahead and in a place of possibility.
On that very first mornings walk to school and just outside the door was an abandoned kitten. Hungry, tired, wet and cold, he waited for our hands to rescue him. I was the first to see him and brought him into class. The teacher was not anyone I remember now but I do remember she allowed us to nurture and take care of that kitten everyday that week. We carefully made a bed out of a box and supplied it with bedding from some forgotten clothing. We made a water dish out of a top from a jar and someone brought some dry cat food from home. We were rescuing that kitten but in reality that kitten was rescuing us.
The kitten wasn't allowed to stay with us the following week when the rest of the kids came back, but he gave us something to talk about that was uniquely "our experience". I wish I could thank the generosity of that teacher for "bending the rules" and living outside the box of acceptable behavior because in it, she demonstrated God's hands of grace.
Astounding to me but years later I was reminded of that experience of science camp. I was a wife, mother to three children, employee and a volunteer youth worker at my church. The opportunity of a 3 day missions trip arose and having never been on one, I thought it might be fun. I wanted to go. Clearly and quickly I discovered it was not going to work that time. Ryan, the son of one of my good friends came running down the street to our house to let us know his cat had just had kittens and could we all come see.
A third try and two months later, I went on my first mission's trip with our church and YWAM to Ensenada, Mexico for 10 days where we built a home. No- no cats or kittens that I remember on this trip. I know, however, every person walked away from that trip with a different take and a perspective all their own but for me God's hand of grace was the redemption of time I had always longed for. He covered me with a love equivalent to the love we showed to that abandoned kitten from sixth grade science camp. Where we "thought" we were rescuing a lost and abandoned kitten, he was really rescuing us. Similarly, where I thought I was helping to chaperone high school students and build a home for a family in need, it was really God using people and the experience to build something in me.
I remember a sermon that talked about a person going to heaven surrounded by unopened gifts. When asked about the gifts, God answered her by saying the gifts were ones He had intended her to open on earth but she never took the time to open them. I challenge you to "slow down" and appreciate the moment. Be intentional about your days and invite yourself to invest in other people's lives, not just the ones you are meant to… like your family but the ones you come across in your life, in school, at work, in the world you sit. You may be surprised by the "unexpected gifts".
When I thought of writing this blog post, I thought of my grandmother "Nana" which is why i chose the music that follows. You see- if each of us has eyes to see and a heart to accept, we can see unique people and experiences all our own. Yes- life for me as a kid (in my own expectation) wasn't that easy or maybe it was my overly sensitive personality but either way, I had people that pointed the way to "possibility" in my life. For me, one of those people was Nana.
Spending time at her house was a "safe" post and place to rest my head. Familiar and loving, her home brought a quiet and predictable peace. I can still "smell" and imagine her home when I close my eyes and be there for the moment.
I have many memories of swinging on the porch swing or swimming in their pool while listening to Boz Skaggs on the outdoor speakers papa had wired.
As I searched for information about Boz Scaggs, I quickly saw the relationship he had with Steve Miller, another popular and influential '70's artist, and classmates in school. The thing that jumped out to me, however, was a simple act of friendship. I read that Steve's mother was a "non-professional jazz-influenced singer" and his dad was a physician who was also an amateur recording engineer. Together they invited friends like Les Paul (renowned for his namesake iconic guitar) regularly to their home. Friends encouraged Steve at an early age and those experiences helped to shape his career as a musician. How often does that happen to us? Are we too tired, shy or busy to take the time to build friendships? or do we take the time to invest? The small thing like inviting people into our homes and sharing hobbies such as music seem so innocuous and minor at the time yet they can have lasting affects on the bystanders, creating those little unexpected gifts in our lives.
Info found in Discogs & Wikipedia
A person who searches for depth and beauty in the simple things.