As part of a church book study in February and March I was struck by a passage about gifts that has prickled at my mind every since. It’s always amazing, yet maybe not, when I encounter the same thought repeatedly over a period of months in a variety of places. Probably this is not a function of that word or topic appearing more frequently in my reading but more a matter of me being more attuned to the subject.
Each new reading brings me new insight into my own gifts. I’ve reevaluated what my gifts are and have been thinking about what to do with them.
What is the amazing quote that kicked off a four-month reflection on gifts?”
“Each of our lives has presented us with gifts that express God’s personal thirst for us, hidden, yet precious gifts that need to be discovered and rediscovered. It can be a good practice to review our lives through this lens to see the various expressions of God’s thirst given to us along the way whether of personality, of providence, or of the sacraments.”
From the book I Thirst: 40 Days with Mother Teresa.
Gifts “need to be discovered and rediscovered.” As I turned seventy this year, I have found myself reflecting on many aspects of my life, both past and present. I wonder what surprising gifts I have yet to discover. I hope I will be able to tap into gifts of personality that will enable me to face the aging process with strength, patience, and humor. I also look forward to additional gifts of providence.
What gifts do I need to rediscover? Quarantine has already propelled me into rediscovering some. I have rediscovered the ability to really just sit and relax, to be comfortable with my own company. I believe this is a gift, one that not everyone possesses. I rediscovered my desire and love of learning to a greater degree as I attended virtual classes and explored things I had not previously tried. I delved into hobbies that had lain dormant for years. These included drawing and embroidery. When it comes to drawing, the gift is in the enjoyment, not in the ability level. With needlework the gift includes a certain degree of talent.
As I revisited the quote about gifts, I began to compile a list of gifts of personality and of providence. I had not previously categorized gifts this way. I consider the strengths and personality traits I wrote about previously( The Peacemaker and The Enneagram and Me ) to be gifts of personality…I suppose. Providential gifts must then consist of the family into which I was born, my current family members, and all the things that make my life comfortable.
Even before I read this book, I tried to look at each day with gratitude. There are many gifts I experience each day. I am always thankful for the gift of a sun brightened day, but I was also thankful for the storms this past weekend that poured almost three inches of rain on my parched garden. I think of the air I breathe and the physical ability to inhale and exhale as gifts. Health is a gift of providence.
There are so many gifts for which I can be grateful each day if I take the time to reflect on them. Reviewing my gifts in the light of personality and providence has broadened my gratitude list.
Recently some people have told me that I have a “natural” gift for crocheting or for embroidery. These comments have fostered thoughts of my mother. One of my providential gifts was a mother who loved needlework and provided opportunities for me to sit next to her and begin exploring embroidery when I was five or six. I remember her drawing the outline of an apple on an old hopsack dishtowel and teaching me to stitch the outline. How proud I was that we used this kitchen towel on a regular basis. She found a simple hat pattern for me to knit and wear. My needlework experiences were frequent and encouraged.
When my mother was in the hospital for three months, the last three months of her life, receiving chemo for her leukemia, she began knitting a sweater for my father. She asked me to choose and purchase a needlepoint project for her. She had never done needlepoint but wanted to learn, even as she knew the chemo was probably not working. She completed that piece of needlepoint before she died. I finished my dad’s sweater after her death.
Is my “gift” for needlework perhaps a combination of the providential gift of a mother who loved needlework and the gifts of personality that include patience and love of learning?
Of course, one can’t read a book focusing on Mother Teresa without being challenged by the consideration of what I can do with my gifts.
I end considering the following quote of unknown origin, as far as I can determine.