Free Gift Enclosed

October 02, 2022 • Barbara Kennedy

A few years ago, I woke up to find that a big ice storm had passed through the area. The roads looked passable though, so I headed off to the gym as planned. I drove only a few blocks until I had to call my husband. “You have to get in the car and drive down Springmill Road,” I nearly shouted, “It is so beautiful! I have never seen anything like this Every twig, leaf and branch look dipped in crystal. So, go now!” He assured me that he would right after he finished writing an email. “Do the mail later,” I implored. “This will not last long.” I went on way to my workout and continued to enjoy the magical winter scene as I walked on the indoor track that is surrounded by windows. When I got home, I burst into my husband’s office. “Did you see it? Did you drive around?” I was like some crazy little kid asking, “Can we go now? How about now?” He responded that the email took longer than he thought, and he missed it. He didn’t even go out at all. I wish I could say that I left him with some kind, gentle reply but I did not. I told him that he could have done the email later, but this beautiful winter landscape was now gone forever, and he had let it go by. He wasted it! That day had a profound effect on me, as you can probably tell. I started thinking about all the times that I had wasted potential wonderful moments on some prosaic task I was rushing to get done. Was there any real joy in ticking a line off my list? Most of the time – no.

I have come to realize that we miss many of the gifts God gives us because we are not paying attention. I went to a child’s birthday party once where the little girl opened a box, took a quick peek inside and cast it to the side so she could grab another and repeat the process. Maybe later she went back to those gits and really enjoyed each one. However, it was not much fun for those of us who had brought the prettily wrapped boxes. One of her aunts whispered to me,” I really tried hard to find the perfect thing to give her and now I don’t know if she likes it or not.” Maybe that is how God feels about us sometimes.

So, now I am going to give you a challenge. Sometime today, go to wherever you listen to music that you can choose – Pandora, Spotify, anywhere else. Find a piece of music that you love and play it. When you reach a part where your heart begins to soar, acknowledge to God that you know this is a gift from him. Then, on another occasion, take a bite of something you love to eat. When you taste that first mouthful of chocolate cake or gooey pizza, again thank your heavenly Father. It is unrealistic to think that we can remember to do that with every pleasurable moment but maybe you can come up with one specific instance to practice on. For me, it is a storm. I thrill to thunder and lightning, so I try to thank God for my wonder in them.

Now for the “free gift” part. I guess I should have mentioned that you will be both giving the gift and receiving it. In the next week, I want you to do some small act of kindness for somebody else. I do mean “small.” You can let somebody go in front of you in the grocery line. You can compliment a mother on her child’s behavior. Pass by the right-by-the-door parking spot and let another person have the joy of finding it. Just do one thing for somebody else that will be a small gift for them.

During the pandemic, I took an online course through Yale, one of their most popular, called “The Science of Well-Being.” In this class, we learned that one of the strongest factors in achieving true happiness is doing or giving to others. Not only do they benefit, but you do as well. Your happiness increases. Our giving project entailed performing a kind act each day for a stranger. Believe me, we all had strong positive results which we measured and graphed.

Now, next time, I will suggest a project that will enable you to have even more of these good feelings. It also came from my Yale course and I promise it is easy and very fulfilling.

So, until we meet again.

Blessings on you all,

Barbara Kennedy