Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Gifts We Have To Give

We took our little grandson on an outing the other day. Someplace he was exited about going. As we got progressively nearer our destination he became increasingly excited and impatient, not irritatingly so, just little kid kind of stuff. Y’know, ‘grandpa are we there yet? Are we almost there? When are we gonna be there grandpa?’ He was in the back seat of the Jeep in his own little car seat. I turned around and said to him “sounds like you might be running out of patience, would you like a little bit of mine?” He smiled and said “yes please”. I reached back to him with a handful of imaginary patience. He reached his hand out to me. I poured the patience into his open palm, and he closed his hand around the patience while saying “thank you grandpa”. I said “maybe you can put some in your pocket to save for later”. He said “OK” and went through the motion of doing just that. I smiled inside. He was very calm and relaxed for the remainder of the trip.

We spent a couple of hours engaged in our activity and then got back in the truck to head over to the library. After a few minutes of calm and quiet he said to me “grandpa, I still have some of that patience that you gave me”. I laughed and said “that’s great grandson, it’s a good thing to have some extra for whenever you might need it”. We continued the drive to the library and eventually he began getting restless again like earlier in the day. I recognized that he was beginning to get tired and a little anxious. It was getting near his nap time, but he really wanted to stop by the library. With the remarkable self-awareness to realize his own anxiety level was changing he said to me “Grandpa, can I have some more of your patience”? I had to laugh out loud. I gave him another handful, he thanked me and settled back down within himself once again.

Re-living these rare and innocent moments in my memory, I am struck by the simplicity, and the importance, of the act of giving. A gift received becomes a gift given. It is the reception of the gift that enables it. If my grandson had not accepted my patience he would not have experienced it. It would not have become his own. A gift should be given without expectation, but accepted with an acknowledgement of its authenticity. It is the transference of something one person has and another person needs. That is the value of giving. I am reminded that each of us possesses a quality that another lacks, and likewise, each of us has need of a quality that someone else might have in abundance.

On many occasions in my life, and by many different people, I have been given the gift of hope. I’ve also been given courage, strength, the gift of love, and others. Give hope to one another. Give each other strength, and courage. Receive from others the things you may be lacking. Remember that, for my grandson, that imaginary patience proved to be not so imaginary after all.