Saturday, 4 June 2011

Gifts: It's funny what you find left on your door step

I returned home the other night to find a foot high figurine on my door step. It is a statuette of two people hugging one another. There was no note with it, so I have no idea who left it for me. I put it on my mantle piece and offered a prayer of thanks for this beautiful and wonderful gift from some living breathing angel. I assume it is a thank you for something I have said or done at some point, but what who knows. All I can say is “Thank you universe” it is a beautiful gift.

It got me thinking about the gifts, not particularly material ones, but the talents we all possess that we can share with one another. Gifts are not meant to be hoarded selfishly but shared with all of humanity.

No two people are exactly alike .We all of us possess different abilities, gifts and talents, that need to be nurtured and developed if we wish to live to our full potential. Our own souls require and desire this from us and I believe that this world of ours needs it too, if we are to create the Commonwealth of God, of love, here on earth.

In the last few weeks I have become increasingly aware of my need to sing more. It is a part of my being that I have neglected. I am beginning to feel, deep down within me, the need to reawaken and develop this aspect of myself, it has laid dormant for far too long.

When I was at ministerial training college we spent some time exploring how people learn differently; that not every mind works in the same way. We do not all think alike, it would seem. Some people learn with pictures, others through conversation orally and aurally, some by listening to a speaker and others by reading and reflecting silently, while still others only really learn by giving something a go and practically applying the information. I personally learn by listening and then engaging in conversation, but recognise that not everyone is the same as me...thank God.

Last year I finally learnt how to drive. During my first few lessons I remember my instructor explaining how some young lads just seem to have a natural aptitude for it and within a few weeks are ready to take their test. This did not apply to me. It took me quite some time to come to terms with the coordination of it all. This is probably because I like to think things through and that doesn’t really work while learning to drive, you have to react quickly to situations. I spent quite some time trying to work out the reasons behind my mistakes instead of focusing on what was in front of me, this usually led to a whole series of mistakes. That said I stuck with it and got there in the end. I learnt a lot about myself, while learning to drive.

Like many people I was utterly mesmerised by Barcelona’s performance during last Saturdays Champions League final. The way that Xavi, Iniesta and Melli etc et al destroyed the great Manchester United side, was mind blowing. It was one of the most spell binding performances I have seen, in a final, for many years. Here were gifted young men fulfilling their potential.

Footballers are rightly criticised for their behaviour at times; the adoration they are shown and the wealth they receive often goes to their heads and leads to all kinds of inappropriate behaviour. That said some of the ridicule they receive goes way over the top. Wayne Rooney is often vilified on comedy panel shows such as “Mock The Week” and “Have I Got News For You”, because he isn’t the most articulate of people. I seem to remember that the same thing happened to David Beckham. This seems unfair. These young men are immensely talented at one thing, why should we expect them to gifted in other areas as well? They are intelligent in their own way; in the way they see things on the football pitch. This was perfectly exemplified by Messi, Xavi and Innestia et al last Saturday night. That said we should never deify these talented young men. Yes they have a gift, which they are making good use of, but they are still human.

When we see others doing something with immense skill it is easy to feel envious and wish that we had their talent too. We can even convince ourselves that if we tried really heard we may well achieve what they can do; that if we mastered their skill we could somehow become complete and develop a higher opinion of ourselves and that others would develop a higher opinion of us also. It seems that so many of us believe that we have to brilliant at everything in order for others to think well of us. We are funny lot we humans. 

The Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians Ch 12) wrote to the Corinth congregation because he had discovered that each member, in their struggle to be the perfect congregational leader, was getting in the way of the others. As a result they were not working in unity. Each one of them wanted to possess all the good qualities that make up a good leader, to become the perfect leader and to leave the others in their shadow. Paul taught them that the spirit does not allow even the possibility that one person can possess every talent. He suggested a change in outlook and I believe that this still applies today, in our time and place. We all know that we can do some things well but we also know that we have weaknesses too. Often we feel that we must strengthen these weaknesses in order to escape criticism and to turn this weakness into a strength, I am not convinced that this is possible. It seems like a road to nowhere and headache inducing one. We should do our best, but we are all limited. Instead perhaps what we ought to be doing is nurturing our talents, not just for the good of ourselves, but for the whole of society.

By seeing that we all possess special gifts that are ours to be used for the good of all and by accepting that as individuals we will not be given everything we will hopefully stop berating ourselves for being less than perfect and begin to live in harmony with one another, making our community and world all that it can be.

Let us be grateful for the gifts that have been bestowed upon us. Whether they have been left on our doorstep or imprinted on our DNA and let us express them with those we live in community with.

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