Our Unopened Gifts

Terry Lieb God Finds, Mindfulness 7 Comments

Imagine for a moment that on Christmas morning you were so taken up by one or two of your parent’s presents that you didn’t take the time to open any of the other gifts you were given—and that this exact same scenario played out again and again every single year for your entire life! Now suppose that one day you are stuck at home with nothing else to do when you go into a back room in the house and discover all the presents you never opened over the years, just sitting there, still wrapped in Christmas paper!

Your loving mother or father comes up behind you and says, “These are just some of the many gifts I have given you over your lifetime that you were too busy and too focused on other things to take the time to open. I’ve been saving them for you. I hope you will take this opportunity to explore everything in this room and unwrap all the gifts I’ve always wanted you to open and enjoy!”

These weeks of being “locked down” have given me the opportunity to explore this endless back room and lately I’m spending more and more time there, rooting around in the unopened, overlooked presents my loving “parent” intended for me. I’m discovering that by focusing on the few big presents over the years that looked important, popular, or just new and exciting, I missed out on many of the smaller, more simple and less flashy gifts. And these new—or, I guess, actually old—gifts I’m just beginning to realize are timeless, priceless, indescribably beautiful, and often have unimaginable transformative potential!

Here are just a few of the gifts I’ve taken the time to open during the last few weeks.

Rita loves the flower, Bleeding Hearts, so we planted some in our yard years ago. With the help of the wind, the birds and other unknowns, those few bleeding hearts have spread to the far corners of our property.

A few weeks ago I walked by a bleeding heart plant that had exploded with blossoms. I was so awestruck, I went in the garage, grabbed an old stool, and sat with that flower! I have looked at those flowers many times over the years but somehow never really saw them. I’m realizing I’ve done that a lot over my lifetime.

I shared this experience with a close friend whose first response was, “I can’t imagine Terry Lieb sitting still on a stool in his yard studying a flower blossom!” My only response was, “Me neither!” Without this enforced coronavirus “time out,” I probably never would have taken the time to notice that “garden variety” miracle right in our backyard.

If this stool-sitting mindfulness seems trite or foolish to you, I expect you may still have your foot on the gas pedal and anxious to get someplace you decided was far more important! I guarantee you if you take the time to really examine this blossom closely you will gain a greater appreciation for the amazing artist that designed and continues to redesign it. By the way I’ve renamed this flower from bleeding heart to transforming heart!

I have also gotten an interesting education when I manage to slow down and become more mindful.

Although I have often observed the birds which call our few acres in the woods home and marveled at the diversity of color on the hummingbirds feeding on the other side of my sliding glass door, I didn’t fully understand the depth of these tiny creatures’ extra-ordinariness until I did a little research. Look up hummingbirds on Wikipedia and be prepared to have a mind-blowing experience!

Some amazing facts about the hummingbird: this bird can hover like a helicopter in midair and it’s wings beat at up to 80 times per second! The Rufous hummingbird, during migration, travels over 3900 miles. And I think driving from Pennsylvania to Florida, in a comfortable car, is difficult! Even more amazingly, the migrating ruby-throated hummingbird can fly 500 miles nonstop over the Gulf of Mexico. Now reflect for a moment on the design and engineering the creator put into just that single aeronautic masterpiece!

The final gift I want to share is a culinary one.

A longtime friend dropped by with a bag of fresh watercress from a spring not far from where I grew up, taking me back to having watercress-and-garden onion sandwiches with my father when I was a little guy. I shared that memory with a neighbor who quickly said, “The constant overflow from my spring house is filled with watercress. You are more than welcome to take what you want.”

Since then, I have been having a watercress sandwich several times a week. This peppery crisp green is one of the tastiest and most healthy plants we could ever hope for. Not only does it have no additives whatsoever, but it’s plentiful and free! When eating processed food from a box, it is easy to forget what (or who) the true source of all sustenance is, but eating food directly from the earth’s bounty restores that connection. Another amazing creation and what a gift to this old man’s taste buds!

Oh, how very fortunate we are in so many ways, gift beyond gifts, blessings beyond blessings, all from a loving Creator!

I’ve found that being mindful of the blessings around me has had an unexpected but profound transformative effect on me. Although flowers, hummingbirds, and watercress sandwiches seemingly have little direct impact on me, becoming aware of the “embarrassment of riches” we have been given by our creator has subtly but surely altered my perception of the world. Instead of a hostile universe of scarcity and competition, I see a world exploding with beauty and abundance.

It’s an interesting phenomenon, the more splendor I see in the world around me, the more I trust the one responsible for creating it and the more I am inspired to share, not out of guilt or obligation, but rather a growing understanding of how much I have been truly blessed.

For me it’s a gradual shift in what offers me security. What the world continually tells me about security—that it comes from wealth or power or even a healthy lifestyle—feels more and more hollow and shallow. It is only in our Creator’s boundless and unconditional love that we find true security and with it, a peace that passes all understanding.

Now I suggest you head straight for that huge back room where you, too, have an infinite number of gifts just waiting to be opened!

 

QUESTIONS FOR DEEPENING  YOUR FAITH JOURNEY

  1. What unopened gifts do you have waiting for you in the back room? Name one blessing you have received in the last 24 hours.
  2. How do you deal with slowing down, whether that be voluntary or involuntary? Do you take pride in being “too busy’ and overscheduled? Is “no agenda” time something you welcome or avoid? Why do you think that is?
  3. When you list your blessings, do you always reach for the same “big” standards (family, health, etc.) or do you look for the everyday “garden variety” micro-miracles that come into your life on a daily basis?
  4. Hummingbirds are certainly remarkable creatures and humans are even more complex and multifaceted. What do you find most marvelous about how humans are designed?
  5. Do you operate from a mindset of abundance or scarcity? Do you think you have control over which way you perceive the world? How would your experience change if you actively sought out examples of abundance?
  6. Do you feel the world is hostile or friendly? Why? How do you think your perception of the world affects your view of God?
  7. How do you most often see God, as a mother, father, artist, creator, engineer, master gardener, provider, or something else (judge, rock, shepherd, potter, light, peacemaker)? How do the metaphors we use to describe God impact our God relationship?

 

Banner Photo by Philip-Brown on Unsplash.com

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Lori Henninger
Lori Henninger
June 1, 2020 12:55 pm

Love this Terry! Such good questions to ponder too!
 

Connie
Connie
June 1, 2020 2:41 pm

How very well said Terry! Every day we marvel at God’s creation, as we watch all the birds at the feeder. How smart the pesky squirrels are. Take time to ponder.
Our youngest keeps a thankful journal, every day she writes something she has to be thankful for.
Hope you & your family are all well.
 
 

Daniel Raudenbush
Daniel Raudenbush
June 2, 2020 8:14 am

Thanks for sharing these gifts with us, Terry. My wife and i have been re-discovering our fence rows and border plantings during this time. We have uncovered (won back from an over-abundance of Oriental Bittersweet Vine) several varieties of plants we never knew we had. Spice Bush, Sassafras, native wild Viburnums, Eastern Red Cedars, and more…

Ron Wildasin
Ron Wildasin
June 2, 2020 9:45 am

 

Ron Wildasin
Ron Wildasin
June 2, 2020 9:57 am
Reply to  Ron Wildasin

Terry,
You have reminded me once again how important it is to be aware of my surroundings. People think I am crazy to feed the chipmunks that gather on my deck, but looking deep into the wooded area that begins about 20 feet beyond provides a quiet sanctuary that calms the mind and provides for peaceful meditation. Yes, I have bleeding hearts and hummingbirds. Thank you.

Dan
Dan
June 3, 2020 7:10 am

Thank you Terry for your thoughts. I always look forward to your posts and you never disappoint.

Catherine
Catherine
June 14, 2020 10:36 am

True eye opener of so many precious gifts God gives us. Thank you Terry !

Last edited 3 years ago by Catherine