The Value Of Giving

I was contemplating the truth in something that I once told my wife… that the true value of a gift is determined by the one who receives it. Since that time I have come to believe that not only does the receiver determine the value of a gift, he or she decides if what was given – is even a gift.

Remembering a time when I was watching one of those popular funniest video shows… There was an expectant mother who was breaking the news of her impending pregnancy to both her mother and her young daughter. The grandmother went wild with excitement.. while the daughter – well, she just went wild. She screamed, I DON’T WANT A BABY BROTHER!” Viewers went back and forth with the grandmother’s delight – and the child’s horror of discovering she would no longer be an only child! The grandmother felt that she had been truly gifted whereas the young girl did not.

I am always thinking of gift ideas for my wife, which is not an easy task because her wants are few and her needs are simple. She is the kind of woman who if I happened to show up with a diamond bracelet would thank me warmly and appreciate my thoughtfulness but who would have been happier if I had brought her a McCoy, which she collects.

Awhile back, she took the grandkids and made the rounds of several garage sales in the area. She managed to buy all three girls an outfit and a couple of other goodies for just three dollars. I happened to call her at the end of this excursion and you would have thought she had won the lottery. She was all excited over her yard sale bargains and I could hear her smile over the phone.

The kids would tell you that they had received a gift. My wife would tell you she had received a gift, but I would say it was me who received the gift when I saw the real joy and happiness in someone who lights up my world with her smile.

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The Sweet Smell Of Forgiveness

There is a German folk tale about Baron von Munchausen… he was out hunting one day and as he stalked his prey, he fell into a bog. He was so desperate to get out that he tried to pull himself out by his own beard! To his situation he managed only to add more pain.

This might be a laughable predicament if it didn’t parallel so closely the way many people respond after they have been hurt, slighted, humiliated or wronged in some way by another. Whenever we choose to hold a grudge, we nurture the pain and cause negativity to grow inside of us. This is literally adding injury to insult – or injury to injury as the case may be. It is not much different from the way Baron von Munchausen tried to remedy his situation. When you hold a grudge, you add negativity to negativity and you get … more negativity.

A better choice is not necessarily the easiest but unless you’re a fan of the Munchausen method or believe that negative plus negative equals positive then it may be necessary to forsake easy for wise; wise being the choice of forgiveness.

Let me relate the story of an Indian chief who, in addition to being wise and insightful, was a heck of a brawler. He had humbled many a young warrior who thought he was tough, making this Chief both respected and feared.

One day the Chief returned to his lodge and found his wife in bed with a young man of the village. The Chief told them to get dressed and leave. News of this indiscretion was soon all over the village and everyone feared for the young man because the Chief had killed men for less.

At the end of the day the Chief called his wife and the young man to a council of the people. Everyone thought “the Chief is going to make an example of the young man by beating him in front of us all” and “this is going to be very bad for both the woman and the young man”. People urged the young man to leave the village and never come back. The young man felt remorse for what he had done and said, “I will not run away. I can’t outrun my actions and I will accept the consequences, whatever they are.”

At the council the Chief asked his wife and the young man to come forward. As the people held their breath he asked his wife, “Do you love this young man?”
She looked nervously at the ground. “Yes.”
He asked the same question of the young man who, after swallowing the knot in his throat said, “I am ashamed of what I have done but I cannot deny what I feel for this woman.”
The Chief answered, “Then the two of you go and be happy,” and he went off toward his lodge. People stood in disbelief. Later, some from the village went to the Chief’s lodge and asked him why he had acted in this way. The Chief said simply, “Because I remember what it is to be young and in love.”

Not only did the Chief overlook the young man’s indiscretion and his wife’s betrayal, he forgave them both of these things – then he blessed them.

True forgiveness is a blessing to the receiver, the one who gives it and to everyone else because forgiveness is healing and comes from a place of love and positivity.

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The Monster Story: An Indian Perspective On Trust

There is a saying that goes, “Don’t believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.” Is there wisdom in this? Perhaps! While a person might speak with complete honesty, it doesn’t mean that he speaks the truth. It is pretty widely accepted that the eye can be fooled into accepting something as true when it isn’t. So if it is hard to trust the senses that we so commonly rely on, how difficult is it to trust the senses that perceive the “unseen” – the things that are of the spiritual realm, those abstract ideas and concepts?

Trust is a difficult thing for many people and there are many emotions that work against it such as fear, anger, doubt, jealousy and hatred. Not only are these capable of eroding trust, they are capable of swallowing up and devouring people.

For the Spirit Dancer, trust is a necessity. He dances with others around a fire, blindfolded. He trusts in his knowledge of the dance. He trusts in the other dancers. They never fall into the fire or collide with each other, but it is those emotions that work against trust and that can devour us that move us off track and remind of a story…

* The Monster Story *

In a village of the people, a time had come upon the land that was very difficult. People were going to the river for water never to return. It was said they were being swallowed by monsters who lived at the river.

It was in this time that a young man went to his grandparents’ lodge and found his grandmother crying. The young man asked, “Why are you crying, grandmother?”

Drying her eyes, she looked up at her grandson and replied, “The people need water because they are dying without it, but no one can go to the river because of the monsters.”

Indeed the young man knew that many of his relatives had gone to the river never to return. He said to his grandmother, “But if no one goes to the river, we will not have water and we will all surely die.”

“Yes,” the grandmother said, ‘that is our problem.”

The young man left wondering what to do. He knew that people were going to the river and never returning, yet he knew death would certainly take them if they did nothing. He decided it was better to die trying than to do nothing.

The next day he went back to his grandparents’ lodge and told them of his decision to go to the the river. He said, “The people are dying and they must have water. I must at least try to go to the river.”

His grandmother took a pouch from her side and handed it to her grandson saying, “In this pouch is a flint and steel, and at least you will have fire.”

His grandfather took the knife from his belt and handed it to his grandson,. He said, “Maybe this will serve you in your journey.”

The young man secured the gifts in his own belt. Thanking his grandparents, he took his buckets and made his way to the river. When he arrived, fear set in his throat like a lump but he saw no sign of the any monsters. He looked up one side and then the next but there were no monsters to be seen.

Quickly he grabbed his buckets and went to the river bank.He bent down to dip the buckets in the water. Feeling like he was being watched, the hairs on the back of his neck stood up. He was very afraid. He just wanted to draw the water and get out of there, but as he went to put the bucket in the water he saw in the reflection of the river a monster with his huge open mouth. And then it was upon him.

He was swallowed up and in the dark belly of a monster. In his fear and anguish, he began to cry. He knew his grandparents would be hurt and worse, he knew others would die because they had no water. As he cried he heard other voices and a stirring in the dark. He yelled out, “Aho, who is there?” Voices started calling back to him, but he couldn’t see. Then he remembered the pouch on his belt and the flint and steel. He began to gather dry things from around him and he struck the flint and steel. Soon he had a fire going and in the light he could see the faces of his relatives and all of the people who had been swallowed by the monster. They all greeted the young man and told him how they had come to be swallowed by the monster.

The young man asked them, “How do we get out of here?” They said, “We can’t get out – it is useless to try.”

At first, the young man was afraid but then he remembered the knife that his grandfather had given him. He said, “Wait, I know what to do.” Then he ran to the side of the monster and thrust the knife in. The monster heaved and the young man pulled hard on the knife, cutting a deep gash in the side of the monster that allowed all of the people to escape. They filled all of their buckets up with water and returned to their village.

**** It is for the person who is trying to find his way in this life, and for all of the things that would “swallow” him up along the way that inspired the “Spirit Dancer”.

At first glance this picture might seem dark because of the emphasis on the monsters, but know that these unseen spirits are capable of devouring the unwary. This picture is really about the “light”. It is the light that exposes and shows us the truth. It is the light that chases the darkness and it is in this light that the Spirit Dancer so confidently makes his way, unafraid of the “dark” and the unseen things.

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