Presence

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I keep thinking about something I heard in a Kairos sermon. Basically, the gist is that the best gift you can give to a loved one, more than presents, is presence.

More than going to a store and picking up something that may or may not end up being regifted or donated to Goodwill, maybe the best gift you can give is you. Your time. Your attention.

Who in your life needs to see your actual face (and not just your profile picture)? Who needs a reminder that you haven’t forgotten them?

Is it a relative? Is it a friend?

You can send a Facebook post or a text, but the best is to have a face-to-face conversation, one in which you aren’t distracted by your phone or tablet, but where you fully engage the other person and actually listen to what they are saying.

Don’t wait. Don’t put it off. Not to be morbid, but you truly never know when it will be too late to have that conversation.

That’s really all I have. Maybe it’s something I need to do myself. Maybe I can find someone I haven’t seen in a while and try to reconnect.

Oh, and may all your traffic lights be green and all your checkout lines be short. Amen.

 

Haunted

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I spent some time yesterday at some land that’s been in the family for a while. We affectionately call it The Farm, although it hasn’t really been used for farming in a very long time.

Still, for me it brings back so many memories. I remember coming there every summer as a child and playing with my sister and cousin. That was back when I was sure I’d find a secret cave or a buried Confederate treasure. I never did, but the memories I have of those days are much more valuable than any old coins I could have found.

More than anything, I’m haunted by the memory of people who I miss. I still expect to see them there, like they’re as much a part of the place as the old buildings and trees.

I expect to see my uncle ambling down the road, wondering what funny story he had for me. ¬†Or my other uncle coming down the gravel driveway in his Ford Bronco. Or maybe my grandmother sitting on the porch, smiling and singing an old hymn. I’d give anything to be able to go outside in the middle of the night with my cousin and do nothing but look up at the sky lit up with stars.

I especially miss when the whole family would get together once a year for a family reunion and the food would taste better and the conversations would be sweeter on that day than any other.

Every blade of grass holds a memory and every leaf is a reminder of days passed. I can pass through those gates and feel exactly like I did when I was 10 years old and still obsessed with old coins and baseball cards.

I think C.S. Lewis was the one who said that a pleasure is not fully consummated until it is remembered. It’s too bad I couldn’t fully appreciate those days and the people for what they were– a gift. But I have memories now that make me smile. And that’s enough.

 

 

For The Ones You Can’t Save

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“Each one of here today will at one time in our lives look upon a loved one who is in need and ask the same question: We are willing help, Lord, but what, if anything, is needed? For it is true we can seldom help those closest to us. Either we don’t know what part of ourselves to give or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. And so it those we live with and should know who elude us. But we can still love them – we can love completely without complete understanding.”

That’s from one of my favorite movies, A River Runs Through It, where a pastor is eulogizing the son he couldn’t help. That son kept making bad choices and one bad choice proved to be fatal. But it was not for a lack of people trying to help him.

I have known people like that. No matter how much you try to help, nothing ever gets better. That person, as lovable and kind as they might be, keeps making bad choices. You think anything you do for that person is a waste. It’s not.

Anything done out of love is never wasted. Generous selfless love is never in vain. I really truly believe that person who seems to blow off your kind efforts and fight your efforts to help deep down knows that you love him or her. They may not be able to express it or acknowledge it, but they know.

God knows, too. He sees the smallest act of charity done to the least of these as done to Him. When you try to help someone close to you who’s down and out, you’re serving Jesus.

When you are loving those who can’t love you back, you are most like Jesus. When you give freely, expecting nothing in return, you show the very best qualities of the Father. When your love is spurned time and time again and thrown back in your face and you still choose to love, that is the Spirit of God really loving through you.

I don’t know what prompted this blog, except that movie quote popped in my head today. Maybe it was for me, to remind me that what to me seems hopeless and impossible is not even remotely difficult to God (thanks to Pastor Pete for that one). And yes, love does win in the end.