It was a little red envelope, tattered with time and wear. Into the pouch went as much as she could spare. Times had been tough for a while. Three kids in college — nothing like financial aid back then. Some dreams gone awry. Two more kids — lots of love but also more tuition. But nothing to complain about, “just what we do.” — and always with a whistle and a smile, maybe a tear now and then. In the little red envelope went a dollar here, two there, five when she could manage it. Periodically, a stop by the furniture store to make the payment. “No one knows.” she would say to me. I knew better than to speak a word.
He stopped smoking. Not for good. Heart disease would take care of that later. Temporarily, the Marlboro Reds didn’t get purchased as often. He slipped the cash into the hidden well in the dresser made for treasures of a different sort. He looked around like a kid stealing candy when he put it in there. I guess he forgot I was sitting there on the bed watching. Saturday had a stop at the jewelry store. “Not a word” he clearly instructed me. Not a chance…I knew better.
Actually, it was years before I made the connection. The dollars slipped into the red pouch. The Marlboro Red money in the well. I didn’t really connect that the pouch and the well were connected to the furniture store and the jewelry store. Only that it was something that should not be spoken of – ever. I just rode along in the car…and watched their eyes.
On the Eve of Christmas, one by one presents that had found temporary home beneath the freshly cut evergreen were opened. As things wound down, I watched their eyes and knew that something big was about to happen. She danced with excitement as my older brothers were commissioned to the garage and my older sisters were sent upstairs — to retrieve the little red box — while I remained and entertained with a Christmas tune rather unrecognizable, but they applauded like it was Carnegie Hall.
Through the door, my brothers labored to bring a large black chair into the living room — as he roared with booming exuberance — it was the one he had been looking at for months, but there was no way they could afford it. Tears streamed down her face to see his joy, until my sisters placed the gold bracelet on her wrist, “What have you done. This is a month of groceries.” I knew that look in his eyes. It worked — he had finally forgiven himself for the engagement ring he couldn’t afford back then. Her joy in the present erased the past and opened the future.
Welcome to the Receiving Department
It is Giving Tuesday…and you thought today was going to be about giving things away.
There is no giving without someone willing to receive.
The Black Chair only found life because he dared to love it
The Gold Bracelet came to life because it surrounded the wrist of my her open hand
To be the Giver is to hold the power
To be in the position of need is to be vulnerable
One of my greatest life lessons has been the experience of being the one in profound need
And to learn the Grace of receiving — both the love and the gift
That’s the great Advent challenge for me — and perhaps for you…
To be willing to remain in the receiving department
I spend a lot of time getting ready to be ready to be ready to receive God’s gift
Rather than just receiving the gift God has for me…I prefer the hamster wheel of recitation of my limitations, imperfections, and the list of what needs to be done on the way to the receiving dock.
But then I remember what I learned from my mother’s red pouch and my father’s deep well — the giver needs the one who is willing to receive ….God needs us to do both.
Give and Receive
But in Advent…God wants to give
The question is — are we willing to receive….or…are you too busy for a miracle?