Oh the way our Lord teaches us how to give…
“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35
Last December for my birthday, I was given a special gift from a religious Catholic Sister friend of mine. It wasn’t the gift that I held in my heart, but the fact this friend remembered me in such a beautiful way. She had given me a used copy of her personal Liturgy of the Hours book, short prayers, so I could learn how to pray them before I purchased the expensive set. The gift from her was so special to me. Not the book, but the love behind it that must have been within to give me this beautiful prayer book. It was wrapped in birthday paper, so there wasn’t any confusion. It was a gift to me, that I graciously accepted.
This week, I had received a telephone call from my Sister friend and she asked me for her book back. She told me she needed it. I was set back a bit as I thought this was a gift to keep. I was very confused as I had always though that when you give someone a gift, never ask for it back. With tears in my eyes I told my Sister friend I would graciously return the book in the morning at Mass and hung up the phone. This was the first time something like this was done to me that truly hurt my heart. I couldn’t figure out why this was happening. Had I done something wrong? Did I do something to hurt her or make her think my faith was not there to eventually learn this way of prayer? Granted I found the book very difficult to navigate and fell back on praying the Liturgy of the Hours on line rather then from this book. But either way, it wasn’t about the book but rather a special friendship I believed I had with her.
A few weeks before this, I had given an orange tree to the Maintenance man to be planted behind the Rectory in our Priests back yard. It was a Blood Orange tree that I had been taking care of for over a year but found no place to plant it. It was beautiful and the back yard of the rectory seemed to be the place it would be best enjoyed. He told me he would take care of it and to place it back there. The housekeeper would water it and that way our Priests could have fresh oranges in the fall. I was so happy to give them the tree from my heart.
The day after Sister had asked me for her book back, after a night of hurt feelings and wondering what I had done wrong, I gave her the book back, not asking a question to her, but rather accepting our Lords words ” Luke 6:30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back”, and got a simple thanks.
After Mass, I walked slowly pondering and worrying, asking our Lord what I had done wrong. As I passed by the back yard of the Rectory, I noticed the little tree I had given to the maintenance man to be planted in the Rectory yard. It was still in the pot I had given it in and lost most of its leaves. The blossoms that would have produced fruit this fall were gone and it was about to become a dead stick rather then a tree. I entered the yard and immediately watered this poor little thing. It hadn’t been watered since I had given it. I was a little upset. I nurtured this tree for a long time and gave it from my heart believing it would be taken care of. I thought about taking it back home.
The SECOND that it crossed my mind to take this tree back, from my heart I heard our Lord ask me, How about that book from Sister? I KNEW at that second, Sister needed that book back so our Lord could teach me the true meaning of giving. Be it that the tree was going to die if I left it there means nothing. I had given that tree from my heart and that was all that mattered. Once I give the gift needed to be let go of, it was gone in LOVE. Be it that it almost died, doesn’t matter. It was the love behind the gift, of giving it in the first place, that only matters.
I watered the little tree that day and a few days later it was green again. God only knows what will happen to it.