On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
The scripture above comes from one of the Christmas stories in the Gospel of Matthew, when the wise men came seeking the newborn child Jesus. Those of us who have heard this story year after year may be familiar with the traditional explanation that the three gifts represented Jesus’ kingship (gold), his divinity (frankincense), and his death (myrrh). Recently I heard an interview with Sister Joan Chittister, a Benedictine sister, who did further research on these gifts and found out that they represented very different things to the people of first century Israel. Gold represented generosity. Frankincense was an incense and oil used to bring a sense of calm to life. Myrrh was a healing oil that was used to, as she said, “bring attention to the fullness of the spirit.” This scripture represents for me the fullness I seek, both in my relationship with God and my relationship with my dog.
Generosity is not usually the first word that comes to mind when I think of my dog. Usually I think of her excitement when I come home from work, the fun she has playing with her best friend and the joy she shows when she sees her favorite people come visit. Her body simply cannot contain her joy in those moments, it overflows from every pore and muscle of her body onto everyone around her. These are moments of generosity, as she shares unabashedly her love for life and for those who love her. She truly makes my heart sing, even more so, when I realize that I did absolutely nothing to earn this incredible gift of love and joy. She simply gives, and gives freely and abundantly, because she loves.
As I look back on my life, I see that God has been the same with me, loving me and giving me all I need, often in my most unlovable moments. Sometimes that gift has come in mystical experiences, when I find myself unexpectedly filled with a sense of love and fullness greater than myself. Sometimes God’s generous love for me has come through a sense of support during difficult times. Other times, it has come through the actions of other people, who have called at just the right time, or spoken an unlooked for word of kindness, or in one case, it was through a stranger who simply opened a door for me. In hindsight, I look back at all those moments, and realize that just as Jas was generous in sharing her love and joy with me, so God has been generous in sharing God’s love and support with me. I call those gifts graces, for that is indeed what they are. I can only hope that I can learn to be as generous and unconditional with my love as both God and Jas have been with me.
- Take a moment to sit quietly and reflect on the day (today or yesterday, depending on when you read this).
- What unconditional gifts has your dog given you today?
- What are the unexpected signs of generosity you have seen today?
- Give thanks for the immense signs and moments of generosity that have come your way this day.