Gifts, Presence and Stacking Wood

A few days ago, I got a delivery of two cords of firewood.  Two cords is a pretty darn big pile of wood.  My young adult son (he’s actually my late sister’s child but I’ve been a parental role most of his life and he calls me mamma), is building a life and a career and currently lives in a large travel trailer he purchased a while back.

Back in the day I lived in a much smaller travel trailer for a number of years and I loved it.  Jonathan’s is infinitely nicer than mine was and he has put a ton of work into making it really sharp.  However, it doesn’t have a washer and drier.

Soooo, I schemed a little bit.  I let him know I had a huge pile of wood – and an available washer and drier!  Actually, he does laundry over here pretty often but I thought it might be nice to get a bit done while we were busting out the wood stacking.

As we lifted, stacked and worked up a little sweat, we chatted, talked about life plans, daydreamed a bit about the new truck driving career he has embarked on, and  joked and poked fun at one another.  We shared old memories and laughed and laughed.  He’s brahma bull strong and a serious worker and to my surprise we got the whole pile nicely stacked in my little wood shed.  While a load of his laundry was drying, I told him I’d love to have him show me the recent improvements he’d made on his RV home so he drove me over and showed me his work, which I affirmed looked really great.

Back at my house, we watched a bit of football (one of my guilty pleasures for sure) and I gave him a short upper back massage.

That night he sent me a text, “Thx for the awesome nite!”

His enthusiasm surprised me a bit.  After all, all we had really done was a bunch of manual labor, laundry and a quick tour of his little house.  He doesn’t even really doesn’t like watching football.   It was a sweet reminder that meaningful giving isn’t about a pile of presents, but quality presence, really being with someone, even just being together having some fun doing the mundane stuff.

Our friends and loved ones, like us, want to feel seen, validated, and loved for who they are- to belong to us and feel deeply connected to us.  The commercial consumerist culture would have us heap material stuff on them, but far more meaningful is the gift of our attention and our love and laying down memories together.   It costs nothing to pay attention and all love felt and given is a gift not only to the loved one but to ourselves and our world.  A Course in Miracles teaches that every gift we give “away” is actually a gift to ourselves, that we receive Spirit’s grace in everything we bestow upon another.

This time of year, when there is so much emphasis on stuff, on buying and giving things, I find so much value in keeping my eye on the ball of Presence — Presence with my loved ones and Presence with Spirit.

In November and December there are at least twenty-eight holidays and nearly all have something to do with celebrating light and shining light into darkness.  Being a good pagan from way back, my favorite is Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, and the official beginning of winter.  From Dec. 22nd forward, days steadily gain a bit more light; as we move through deep winter, the Earth readies for the next surge of new growth.

Given my rather awful childhood experience with a certain religion, it has only been the past few years that I’ve been able to reclaim the Christ in Christmas.  This holiday isn’t about the birth of a single human-being but about the epic journey each of us in on to recognize/ remember our own Christ consciousness, our own Divinity, and our true identities as spiritual beings having a human experience.

I am certainly finding that that is by far the greatest gift we can give ourselves.

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Cover of Cylvia Hayes’ When Life Blows Up