Our Gifts

The weather warmed up again today, and I was able to sit on the back porch, not really reading, but letting a book lie face down in my lap. Among the afternoons sounds I heard was a woodpecker stubbornly knocking at a tree. The repeated hollow clackings echoed in the air, creating its own staccato music. I wonder how the bird’s head can withstand the repeated poundings it receives without damage. Dead pine branches and trunks are riddled with the holes they bore into the wood, searching for insects and larvae. God gave them a peculiar gift, protecting their brains despite the impact of beak on solid wood. As I look at the animal world that exists on the island, it’s obvious each has a special gift, a method of dealing with the environment and flourishing. I believe the same is true of humans; each of us has a gift given by God, intended for his use in his service. Sometimes the gifts are obvious—a beautiful voice, skilled hands, musical talent, teaching ability, and so on, but sometimes the gifts are less obvious. Hands that help set up chairs for a church dinner, feet that walk to visit an ailing neighbor, ears that hear the cries of the needy, fingers that pick flowers to carry to someone who’s lonely or depressed. Please, Lord, help me find my own gifts, encourage the gifts in others, and understand that we are all loved equally. Amen.

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Mine!Mine!

I watched a gull with a large fish in his mouth bent over at the edge of the beach.  He seemed worried that I would steal the fish from him, and so tried to pick it up and fly, but the weight made flight almost impossible.  Again and again, the fish fell from his beak, once almost slipping into the ocean and escaping.  I stopped my walk so the bird could eat the fish in peace, but he was convinced I would grab it, still trying to hurry it to safety.  I felt sorry for the gull; I didn’t want his fish and would have avoided him if I could.  Sadly, I am sometimes like that gull, so worried that others will take from me what is “mine”, that I risk losing it in the very act of protecting it!  In church I sing that all I have is a gift from God, and yet in my daily life I label “Mine!” too often, spending my energies, like the gull, protecting what is in no danger of loss and losing what is most valuable.  Forgive me, Lord, when I worry more about what is mine than about what is yours.  Help me share generously as you have so richly shared with me. Amen.

Morning GloryMorning Glory

In a dune of pure white sand, a wild morning glory flourishes.  Tightly coiled bud, full blossom and spent flower—it is a perfect picture of life’s stages.  I wonder how it receives nourishment in the sand, or how it can find enough water to sustain life.  And yet it blooms happily, sending roots deep into the sand, finding somewhere within a layer of nutrients, and thriving on the few drops of moisture the morning’s dew produces.  The conditions seem so hostile, and yet the morning glory celebrates life.  What about me?  Do I send roots deep enough, do I collect the dewdrops, do I celebrate life despite the conditions in which I’m placed?  Forgive me, Lord, when I complain and whine.  Help me, like this morning glory, to send deep roots of faith and to be grateful for your gift of life.  Help me bloom with love where you have placed me. Amen.

Finding a FeatherFinding a Feather

  Today on my beach walk, I came across a feather.  It lay in the sand, perfect in shape, a swift, arching curve.  I picked it up, running my fingers over its simple complexity.  I wonder if the owner knew of the feather’s loss, or if it simply fluttered down as the bird soared overhead in search of food.  Perhaps it was scarcely acknowledged as it went missing.  I turned around to see my footprints in the sand; I wonder now what I leave behind me, what traces do others come across.  Is what I leave behind beautiful or sordid?  I wonder, dear Father, if others can see you in my footprints.  Do I leave behind a message of hope, of encouragement, of love?  What words have my lips last spoken?  Where did my feet last visit?  What message did my hands last shape?  Does my path seem strewn with careless and selfish refuse, with ugly words, with mean spirited thoughtlessness?  O please help me, Heavenly Father, to walk in your path, to leave behind in my wake all that testifies I share my path with you.