Monday, December 14, 2015
Gifting is an Act of Grace
I enjoy pets and find personable cats to be good company in my home. The very habit of rising in the morning to their pleas for food, resting beside them in a favorite chair, or talking with them as we work are all within a contented and ordinary day.
That is not to say that my cats have no annoying habits. My Siamese, although sweet in disposition, annoys me no end by nagging for food. I always feed a small bowl of wet food in the morning and her dry food bowl always has a portion in it. But she apparently perceives this as a half empty bowl, which is unacceptable to her. So she meows incessantly, rubs my legs repeatedly, nibbles my ankles and pleads. Of course this puts cat hair all over my lower half clothing and irritates me so I fill her bowl to stop it. I am compliant for sure.
I’ve learned that this behavior has nothing to do with hunger. It has to do with the act of giving to her and this I believe is my lesson this season. Gifting is not an obligation to be fulfilled. It is an act of grace.
While we are taught to believe that it is better to give than receive, there is a message delivered with receiving. Someone thought of you, loved you enough to take the time to find some small token or gift and gave it to you. Or perhaps a person did something thoughtful for you. This too is a gift. And when this happens, you feel as if you belong to them; you connect with them in this huge world. When you are not thought of in some small way, you feel disconnected and at least slightly alienated.
The value of the exchange falls equally to the giver and receiver, for both must learn to know and care for each other. You are blessed both as a giver AND a receiver.
Too often we stretch too far for the big gifts in life, when the small treasure would do well. It is far too easy, even with the people we live with, not to voice recognition of the acts we appreciate or fail to validate responses. Gosh, if we could only purr it would be easier. Love, and the act of giving and receiving it, is given to us by the grace of God, and without it we waste away, or “like flowers, whither...”
This year I will try to do a better job of validating my relationships and showing my love of others. The result would be better relationships for sure, and lead to a deeper appreciation of those I love. Loving one another is our earthly challenge. God surely knew his people would grow only through relationships.
This morning as my cat and I went through our routine, I grimaced as she rubbed her face against my ankles. Just as an experiment, I reached into the bag and laid a single cat food nugget in front of her. She ate it daintily and looked up to me with loving eyes. I knelt to give her a good rub and her purr rumbled toward me. “Thanks for the lesson,” I thought, and reached for the fur grabber.