(Dedicated to my cousin Janie Corcoran of Ireland, 1924-2007.)
Has anyone ever given anything to you
In your darkest hours
Did you ever give it back
Well, I have
I shared a bedroom with my sister Michele many different times when we were growing up . The time that was the most fun was when I was about 10 and she was about 6. After we’d finally decide it was time to go to sleep and stop goofing off, we’d pick themes for the walls, the ceiling, and the floor – one might be “cartoons,” one “animals,” one “fairy tales,” and so on. Then we’d dream about whichever theme we faced when we went to sleep.
Lately I seem to dream about whatever I am doing or watching on television just before I go to bed. I was working on genealogy last night and had a vivid dream this morning. It took place in Ireland quite some time ago. A family member was mourning the loss of her young son, who had been shot. (It was a stone bullet, so that tells you how long ago this must have been.)
The most vivid part had to do with how the families around the grieving family responded with what funds they could scrape together to help bury the young boy. The funds and notes were kept in these special notebooks that I could read so clearly in my dream. I was particularly moved by a note from a neighbor widow who wrote, “Alas, I have no money to give, but please stop by for a spot of tea and a chat.”
If you are like me, you were e-mail bombed at the end of 2013 with appeals from charities you had probably never heard of asking for donations, appealing to your ability to write your donations off on your taxes. I am frequently solicited on Facebook by friends for everything from books they have just written to stuff their kids are selling to heart-wrenching stories about people with medical expenses or those who need organ transplants (I have two friends in this position as I write this).
Sometimes it is just so overwhelming, even if I were employed, which I have not been for almost five months now.
“Alas, I have no money to give, but please stop by for a spot of tea and a chat.”
Despite what you may hear from pastors like Joel Osteen or T.D. Jakes, it is not all about getting presents as much as it is about being present for others.
Dear Holy One, how often we forget our presence can be the biggest present of all. Help us remember when we think we have nothing to offer because we have nothing financial, we are rich in other areas. We can offer our hands to hold, our shoulders to lean on, a kind smile of encouragement, and a shared moment of laughter. Most of all, we can offer ears to listen. Blessed be.