Some things I have learned #14

Subtitle: Or, at the least, I think I believe

Sub-subtitle: Or, at the most, I believe I know


Advent, the Christian church season of anticipation of the Incarnation, the coming of God into the world through the birth of Jesus, draws to a close; draws closer to the threshold of Christmas. Christmas, though historically inherently religious in its roots, long has been embraced by secular culture as a time of celebration. Hence, whether I think about the Divine or the human graces of giving (or both!), I am put in mind of the nature of gifts.

The cardinal character of a gift is that it cannot be earned. Sought, hoped and longed for, yes. Earned, deserved, merited, no. Never.

Whenever, if ever a gift comes, the receiver, with the grace of gratitude, only need, only can open the hands of acceptance. Verily, open the heart of being accepted by the gift-giver.

This attitude of the acceptance of a gift and of one’s self is essential. For the gift, especially when that of love unconditional, can provoke, will provoke self-doubt about one’s worthiness.

In this, there is purest paradox (that which, at first glance, makes no sense, but, at its heart, embraces and embodies deepest truth): An authentic gift, that is, something given freely, without contemplation or concern for the merit of the receiver, always stirs within the heart of the receiver the question of her/his merit. (The operation and mutual awareness of this dynamic, I think, is one sure way to know whether an authentic gift has been given and received!)

And whilst the vexing self-wonderments about worthiness remain, it is acceptance that encourages, most truly, that allows one to enjoy the gift and to embark on a new stage of one’s life of being and becoming.

© 2020 PRA

2 thoughts on “Some things I have learned #14

  1. Paul,

    Thank you for this! One of the things that popped into my mind when I read this that I think adds another layer to the gifts of 2020 is that many gift givers won’t be able to see the reaction / acceptance of the gift receiver due to the pandemic. There may be a virtual gathering and while they are better than nothing it’s not like being live. Thus the authenticity of the gift becomes even more important this year. I also believe that due to the financial impact the pandemic has had on millions of people, the perfect gift thus year is to be healthy and that’s better than any store bought gift. More than 300,000 people in this country were taken have been taken from their loved ones and those of us who have not experienced that have already received the BEST gift of all!



  2. Yes, Loretta, our pandemic-induced distancing, I believe and agree with you, does make “the authenticity of the gift…more important this year.” Thank you, bless you for this poignant and prescient observation. I shall ponder this more deeply.

    And, yes, we who have not experienced the loss of the lives of loved ones, in their ongoing lives in this world, already have received the best, the finest of gifts! (Nevertheless, more than once, I have thought back to that question asked at the height of the AIDS crisis, for it remains applicable to that dread disease and, now, to COVID-19: “Do you know of someone who has died?” And I answer: Yes. Two members of our St. Matthew’s parish family. Several others have been stricken, though, blessedly, have recovered or are in the stages of recovery. Tho’ none of us yet can know the long-term effects of the disease.)

    Love you


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