Simple Gifts

Before I can recall specific memories of time from my childhood, I learned this Shaker hymn written by Brother Joseph Brackett in 1848:

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

Last night, I was pondering the blessings of simple gifts I have received in my life. Among the myriad, I will mention but a few:

1. The Gift of Time. Occasionally, I am aware of individuals, who, by living with intention, carve out a section of time for me. Sometimes, this time is given in the form of sending a message, answering a question, or acknowledging a comment. Other moments, I receive this gift when a dear soul calls on the phone or visits. Each morning, I wake with a sense of the gift I have been given of another day to spend time as I wish.

2. The Gift of Choice. I am acutely aware each day that I have the gift of choice. I choose what I want to wear, where I will go (or stay), and how I will use the gift of time. I choose the relationships I will develop each day, the words I will write and read, the music I will hear. I choose to live and love.

3. The Gift of Being Clean. After the birth of a new baby, I remember a moment where my mother was returning from a doctor appointment not far from my home. She and my father, who was her driver, stopped by for only a few minutes. She said, “We can hold the baby while you take a shower.” As a mother of a new baby, I had been covered in bodily fluids from leaky nursing pads and diapers. I was so grateful for the blessing of taking a shower and for the gift of being clean.

4. The Gift of Being Able to Change. Other times, I have felt covered in the hopelessness of doubt–doubt in myself and my ability to go on, to move forward, to change. I have allowed myself the laziness of wallowing, not unlike the Prodigal Son. But I, too, have looked up, and through prayer, scripture study, and through the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I have been given the gift of being able to change.

5. The Gift of Love. As a teenager, I was hyper-judgemental. I didn’t like that every outfit I saw, every person with whom I spoke, and every hair-do and purse and action was seen through a critical lens. I even looked at myself that way. The gift of love was lacking in my life. As I grew into a high school and college student, I began to cultivate feelings of love for others (though I still struggled with self-love and acceptance). The newfound happiness of loving instead of judging others was a great gift. Eventually, I decided I wanted to give that gift not only to others, but to myself. I struggled over years of praying and building uplifting thought processes; I spent many an hour along this journey in conversation with supportive friends. Within the last several months, my heart has changed toward myself, as well. I have gained knowledge that God loves me as I was, as I am now, and as I will become–even with my imperfections. I still have negative days occasionally, but overall, I can say that I do–truly–love myself. This gift is perhaps the most precious of them all.

Simple Gifts


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I still remember a song I learned when I was…who knows how old I was?  I’ve known it for as long as I can remember.  The song, “Simple Gifts,” is a Shaker song written and composed in 1848 by Elder Joseph Brackett.  Would you like to hear Jewel’s rendition? (It’s the only one I could find on YouTube, so it will have to suffice.)  Here you go:  Simple Gifts

We have each been given gifts…gifts of life, gifts to give and receive love, gifts of faith in God or fellowmen (or both), gifts of writing, gifts of goodness, gifts to share and gifts to develop.  Gifts can be moments of peace and tranquility.  Gifts can also be found in packages of adversity, where we learn more about ourselves and our abilities to carry on and to triumph.  Whatever your gifts are, I hope that you will recognize that you are amazing!

In this post, I invited you to join my family as we have sought to recognize and develop the gifts we have been given.  Did you take me up on that?  We’ve had almost two weeks since that post, and I’m wondering what you have discovered.  I have been working on developing my gifts to cook and bake, to sing, and to continue writing and editing the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo…and I am working to connect with you through blogging while reading and commenting on your blogs.  I applaud your efforts.  🙂

While searching for our own gifts, let’s also look for the gifts of those within our sphere of influence.  Maybe someone did something kind for you.  (Yesterday, after a lengthy visit (with a somewhat fussy preschooler) at a store, I purchased said fussy preschooler a drink.  As we were shuffling items around a shopping cart, the two of us managed to dump said drink all over the floor.  And the drink was sticky.  And the floor was soaked with a big mess.

A fellow customer went to grab an employee, who quickly flagged the slippery, sticky area and mopped the spill.  I was so grateful for both of those people.  They took initiative and helped a tired mom with a fussy little person.  Sure, someone could argue that the employee was just “doing his job,” but to me his work meant so much more.  He was helping me rectify a mistake I made.  And I was grateful for him.)

Two Mondays ago, on our weekly family evening, we passed around papers where each person in our family wrote one item which we recognized as a gift in another person.  My page looked something like this:

MOM
You are good at playing the piano.  Mom is good at cooking.  Mom is very patient and forgiving of us.  You are so nice and you help me with everything! I wouldn’t have lived without you…literally! 🙂  You are very caring!

Now, while I wouldn’t own all of those kind thoughts from my sweet family (especially the piano one), some of the people who know me best have helped me see some of my gifts.  And, I think that since they were looking for positive attributes in other members of our home, they have each been more positive since the night we did that activity together.

So, in the busyness of this holiday season, I challenge you to take a moment to think of the gifts you possess that you cannot purchase from a store…as those may be the simplest (and most profound) gifts of all!