This article was written by Teresa Keogh Advisor for Stewardship Archdiocese of Southwark, U.K.
As I write this we are fast approaching Christmas, a time when few of us have time to ‘take stock’ of what and how we are living.
But January is quieter for many of us – a time when we might have a spare moment to assess where and how we are. Many of us try and make New Year resolutions – and they are often ‘all about me’. I need to be thinner, wealthier, more hard working and so on. And they are often doomed to failure.
I would like to suggest something different this New Year. As stewards we talk about and live gratitude; we strive to make that foundational in our lives. We are thankful for all we have received and we have a great desire to give. But do we make opportunities for others to give? Are we receptive to their giving?
Maria Bolding, an English Benedictine nun who died in 2009, spoke of this in her final illness. She describes herself in the prologue to her last book, Gateway to Resurrection, as “…like a helpless child who has nothing to give except its need.” At that stage in her life she was finally able to accept with gratitude the gifts that others offered her. She was able to receive.
As we enter this New Year, can we pledge to be open to receiving the gifts that others offer to us? Can we be grateful for these too? Having an attitude of receiving as well as giving will mean that a greater number of people will be able to fully use the gifts that God has given them – and allow each of us to be grateful for a greater range of gifts, not just those we recognize and use, but also those that we receive. In this way we can fully live what Saint John Paul II wrote about in Novo Millennio Ineunte (At the Beginning of the New Millennium), when he asserted:
“A spirituality of communion implies also the ability to see what is positive in others, to welcome it and prize it as a gift from God: not only as a gift for the brother or sister who has received it directly, but also as a ‘gift for me’” (#43).
I realize that I am writing this before Christmas and you’re reading it after, but I think it might apply to every day, not just Christmas.
I have been talking with several of my friends in the past few days. Everyone seems overwhelmed this year. Each of us has had someone wise in their life who has stepped forward and spoken the raw truth:
Your family and friends make the time to get together with you because they love you. They want to share in your company. It doesn’t matter if there’s paper plates or china, gifts of no gifts, bare tree or richly decorated. (Yes, they do appreciate those things, but they don’t matter!) Get over it and enjoy.