Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Twelve Ways of Christmas - Way 5: Presents of Presence

For the fifth way of Christmas, the Season gave to me presents of presence.

Nothing epitomizes this way more than things said and done by my two favorite girls, Ella and Lily.

Ella's now turning 13, but when she was four to five, we began a Christmas ritual of having adventures together.  Our first adventure was at the Frothy Monkey.  We shared grill cheese and chocolate milk. I took photos which I later turned into a book.  As we drove home, Ella asked what we were going to do the next day.  I had to go to work which prompted her asking what I did. I explained that I listened to and talked with people about their feelings.  Now wanting to let an opportunity pass I began to innumerate all the many things Ella could go to college to become.  I covered a multitude of options. 

Of course Ella's response wasn't on my extensive list.  She said, "I think I'll go to college to be a good friend."  That shut me up. 

How simply beautiful was this child's aspiration?

Imagine a world in which just a fraction of us gave friendship as a present this holiday.  

Ella soon had a little sister, Lily, who became a participant in Christmas adventures too though as all second children know they seldom get the same special treatment as the first child.  Lily though is definitely special just like her sister.

One Christmas eve when the two girls were over, Lily asked to become a present.  Within minutes, a roll of wrapping paper, tape and scissors transformed Lily into a gift that walked down the street and up the steps to present herself to her mother.  

How simply beautiful is that?

Imagine a world in which just a fraction of us realized the gift that we are to others and the gift they are to us. 

There are the unanticipated yet seemingly destined gifts of presence as shared in a friend's letter.  Tucked inside this year's Christmas card, Russ wrote of the unexpected bond that had developed between his wife and their dying neighbor, a mutual presence was being shared by these two women.

So much can get in the way of presence.

Busyness, exhaustion, social media, noise, resentments, misunderstandings, have-to's, need to's, should's but don't want-to's and judgement just for starters. 

I was given the present of presence by two friends years ago.  At different times, each of them met with me face-to-face to own their having judged me.  I just saw one of them recently and told her how much this meant to me.  I honor my friends for this gift of radical presence.

Contrary to billboards, ads and commercials, the best gifts aren't really found in stores or on-line.  The best gifts are found in each of us. We are gifts to one another as we share our presence, not just during the holidays but throughout the year.

It is simply and profoundly beautiful.  Each day is like dear Lily wrapped as a gift presenting itself. Likewise we are gifts to one another.  It is so simple as Ella knew.  Being a friend is what's really most important especially when that means showing up and practicing honesty as my friends did.

I wish for you the present of presence not just at Christmas but all the year through.
-Dawn, The Good News Muse 19 December 2013

Ponderings on Presence and Presents - 

What presents do you most value?
Practice noticing when you're present and when you are distracted from the present. 
What beliefs or distractions get in the way of your being present to others as well as to yourself as you go through your day?

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