The tradition of gift giving seems to go back to the beginning of civilization. People give gifts for many reasons – to show love, to ask for a favour, as a “thank you” etc. After Christianity began, the idea of gifts at Christmastime maybe started with the story of the Wise Men bringing gifts to Jesus at his birth.
Gifts without ribbons
We like to wrap our presents in pretty paper and tie them with ribbons. I wonder if we realize that we can give very beautiful gifts anytime, and without paper or ribbons? For example, giving someone a warm handshake, a hug, a pat on the back, things we take for granted, are really some of our most beautiful gifts.
We humans are very sensitive to being touched. Scientists tell us that a loving touch actually releases hormones in our body that makes us feel good! Years ago, I taught Psychology in a school of nursing. I told the nursing students how important their work was. Research says that people recover from surgery 80% faster because of the nurses’ healing touch.
Here is a beautiful song by a group “Nothin’ Fancy” (find it on You Tube) called:
“The Touch of Her Hand”
I found your letters today,
I had tucked them away
With a pair of white gloves and a fan.
I held them awhile, they took me back
and made me smile
as I remembered the touch of your hand.
It was a midsummer’s night,
the village green was in light.
Paper lanterns surrounded the band.
They played waltzes ‘til dawn,
‘til all the couples were gone,
And I remembered the touch of your hand.
Now the face in the mirror is old---er,
the children worry, they don’t understand.
Now I don’t live for the past
but in dreams I still dance,
and remember the touch of your hand.
(The words are from a man, but if you are a woman, just change the title to “The Touch of His Hand”).
Another gift without ribbons is a smile. It sends the same warm hormones as a touch. Only, we are so caught up with our own worries and problems that we don’t realize how we look with furrowed brow.
Unfortunately, our look triggers anxiety hormones in others. This is just spreading the virus of unhappiness. But a warm smile may be just the medicine the other person needs to kill the bad virus and pull him or her out of an unpleasant fog. What a gift that is! Better than one with ribbons and paper.
Here are some verses about smiling,
by Dave Mason (Google the whole song):
A smile isn’t hard to do,
and it brightens up your face,
makes you feel like flying free,
makes your heart to race.
But the best thing is that when you smile,
everyone smiles too.
And the greatest gift
when you’re feeling down,
is when someone smiles at you.
So, smile awhile from early when you rise.
Let that smile play on your lips
and [shine] within your eyes.
Let everybody see the sign,
don’t try to disguise.
Your smile might seem so small to you;
But, baby, smiles change lives.
To the gift of a loving touch, and the warmth of a beautiful smile, let’s add the sound of a kind word that can roll off our tongue. Just think of the power the tongue has. The tongue is like the rudder of a ship (James 3:1ff). No matter how strong the winds, the small rudder can control the direction of the huge ship. So too, sometimes it only takes one word to destroy a person. In the same way, when someone is down, it only takes one word to bring that person to life. What a gift!
I’m not really telling you anything new that you didn’t already know. So, my Christmas gift to you here, is like a little piece of string. Tie it on your little finger (in your imagination) to remind yourself of the awesome power you have! You can create sparks of life by being generous with your gifts, making life beautiful when you scatter your little gifts of touching, smiling, and kind words.
A Christmas meditation:
Let’s think about these ideas a little more deeply. Read slowly and meditatively. Get ready to think like the mystics do. Don’t let that scare you. Every one of us was born a mystic. Little children haven’t lost their mystical view of the world yet. For them, life is all wonder and mystery. They don’t walk, they run, skip and dance. They squeal with laughter and joy. We love their innocence. It’s because they are still mystics. Life is full of wonder and mystery.
John, the Apostle was a mystic. He wrote. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God” (John 1). Read that again: “the Word was God”. What does that mean?
John was thinking of the beginning of time, when nothing existed, only God. So, he wondered, where did the world come from? The answer was stunning. “The Word is God, and the Word became flesh”. Flesh is something you can touch and feel and see. So, this is how God becomes visible – everything in the world shows God in it, if we only have the eyes to see – the eyes of the mystic, like John.
And of all that God created, what is more beautiful, more mysterious, more fascinating – than humans; “and the word became flesh”! Each one of us is an image of God – if you look at us with the eyes of a mystic. Think about that, so beautiful – and true!
Now you can understand why the touch of your hand has so much power – God is in it. In a smile, God is looking through your eyes. When you speak love, God is speaking. This is the mystic’s view. This is what life is really about.
An edited letter received from my dear friend E
Christmas 2018 shared with permission