Recognizing a gift

Christine Havens is a senior in the Master of Arts in Religion.  Christine came to Seminary of the Southwest from the Diocese of Iowa.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”

How do you recognize a gift? Gifts are objects of love and affection, given freely, right? We have a Christmas carol that celebrates them—“on the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me. . .” Toward the end of my marriage, I learned to recognize when my ex was seeing another woman—he bought me things that were fairly thoughtful, that reflected my taste. Reflecting on this right now, I keep my distance from the image of an iridescent black stone dragon given to me for Christmas one year and from the gratitude I recall feeling at the time—despite the affair, my husband remained my true love. There were other such “gifts” before we finally separated. To say the least, this definitely skewed my ability to recognize gifts. I loved what my friends since then have given me—candles, a pair of earrings when my ears were not even pierced at the time. I do not mean to suggest that these gifts had no meaning. How can I say it except to state that they were easily recognized, safe, and not painful? I can see now just how much relief and gratitude I felt then—I did not have to go near that dark place inside me that helplessly viewed thoughtful gifts with trepidation and suspicion, a darkness that, until very recently, I carried around within me.

How do you recognize a gift? Perhaps you tell a story, and begin it by talking of darkness and light. You use your words, that very creaturely aspect of humanity, to speak of how God’s Word entered the world, and yet his creation knew him not; could not see through darkness, yet the light prevailed. You lovingly talk of grace and truth, gifts freely given to us through the Son from the Father.

How do you recognize a gift? Perhaps you read John’s story and decide to tell one of your own, a very personal one, in which you talk about a painful part of your life and acknowledge darkness within. But in relating that story, you recognize the gifts, grace upon grace, of the last year and a half; God’s very thoughtful gifts, that brought to light that dark place of fear and suspicion. You see just how little power that part of your own story has any longer. You recognize and know the gift of living in the embrace of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and give thanks.

How do YOU recognize a gift?