I currently find myself in the midst of more boxes than anything else. My wife Allison and I are busy packing as we’ll be moving soon, leaving Minnesota to return to the Pacific Northwest so Allison can begin her pastoral internship.
As I have been packing, I have come across a few things which have been gifts to us over the years, and they have me thinking about meaningful gifts. Most of them aren’t special or meaningful to me because of their fiscal value (if they have any). The stories that go along with the gifts and the memories they have given have a value far beyond their monetary worth.
Here are a few stories and memories of my most valued gifts:
- I am a pianist and vocalist. I love to work out my stress on the piano, and because of this I have quite a bit of sheet music that I’ve been packing. Last week as I was going through some of it I came across a song that had been written and dedicated to me by my good friend Tom. The gift of that song, a thank you for serving in leadership in a particular congregation, brought me to tears when I was surprised with it in worship a couple years ago. Finding the music again brought back many memories and joys from those years.
- This morning I was sorting through many of our holiday decorations, especially our Christmas ones. I wanted to make sure that our nativity scenes were all packed snugly and comfortably so that they hopefully will make the trip unscathed. I took particular care of our largest one, a crèche that was a wedding gift from my Grandma. It was the scene I grew up playing with, and when Allison and I got married my Grandma said I should have it. I’ve been taking care of it ever since because it brings back many memories.
- Last weekend I was packing some of my jazz CDs and some baseball things. I credit my love for both in a large part to my other Grandma and Grandpa. The gift of great conversations about how the Mariners are doing, dreaming about what it will be like when they make it to the World Series (sadly, which definitely won’t be this year), and listening to the melodies and improvisation of Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, Irving Berlin, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra and many others, are areas of interest which I share with my grandparents. And they bring back great memories.
- It’s pretty easy to tell what Allison and I do for a living based on what we’re packing. Clearly the things we have the most of are books. We’re definitely life-long learners, and I am grateful for the gift of a deep understanding and appreciation of vocation which was instilled in me growing up by my parents. Thanks Mom and Dad!
As I write this today, I have to admit I’m grateful for many gifts which don’t fit in boxes like the ones I’m packing. Of course, many of these things help me remember the gifts of faith, hope, and love that we have in God. Gifts with the most worth in our lives are often holy moments in life that come unexpectedly. Just today I received an email and call expressing great news of a miracle. A family friend battling a terrible form of cancer just found out that thanks to prayers from all over, and her willingness to hit her pancreatic cancer head-on, her cancer mass is gone. It hasn’t just been reduced, it’s gone. That sort of thing doesn’t just happen. It’s a miracle, I believe. And for that, and so much more, I am giving thanks today.
What gifts with valuable memories stand out to you? What stories are attached to them? And for what do you give thanks today?
This blog is a component of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center’s COMPASS initiative to engage young adults in conversations about faith and finances. Like what you see and want to know/do more? Visit the COMPASS web page and join the COMPASS community on Facebook.