Gift of love

It took a couple of days to get the tree up this year.  One evening the tree made it from the storage bag in the basement to an upright position in the stand in the living room.  Then it sat there in the middle of everything, a naked fake tree.  Part of me felt sorry for the tree and the other part wanted to toss it out and go find another perfect beautiful tree.  What I wanted was the easy tree, the one that someone else would do the hard work on.  I wanted the tree that would magically appear in the living room decorated and lit. Reason and the reality of the checking account balance reminded me that I was not a candidate for Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.  If I wanted a fabulous tree I was going to have to get serious about the business of decorating the tree I had.

Decorating that tree turned into a metaphor for your Advent gift of the week, the gift of Love.  All week I knew I was going to write about Love, so I was on high alert for ideas but somehow nothing seemed to fit properly until I finished decorating the naked fake tree.  I fussed with the garland, tucking and untucking it, only to stand back and readjust it again.  I nearly lost heart when I had to climb the ladder to place the angel.  Something about the whole affair felt precarious and scary.  I calculated mentally how long I would be lying on the floor with broken bones if I happened to fall.  Some of the old ornaments were showing their age and had lost their shine.  I fretted that the tree would not be perfect.

In the midst of the fretting, I realized that all that was required was that I give the tree my best decorating effort and honour it with the decorations I had.  If I gave my best and honoured what I had, I would be rewarded with even more beauty than I imagined regardless of what I started with.  Actually, that was a bald faced lie.  In the midst of the fretting, I just figured, what the heck.  Sometimes you just have to make the best of what you have.  That was what was really going on in my head.  The other version happened later when I wised up to a few things.

Gaining that wisdom happened over the course of about forty-eight hours with the last piece of the puzzle fitting into place early this morning.  There were several puzzle pieces that I had to find and fit in my head and heart.  The first piece revealed itself as I placed the ornaments on the tree.  That piece was the giving piece.  The more ornaments I placed and the more carefully I placed them the more beautiful the tree became. The ornaments were my gifts to the ordinary naked fake tree.  The second puzzle piece caught me by surprise when I finally finished decorating, turned on the tree lights, turned out the room lights, and stood back to honour the final product.  In that moment of pausing to honour, to truly look at what was before me, I was overjoyed by how it had turned out.  No longer was it a naked fake tree.  Now it was a thing of beauty transformed by lights, garlands, and ornaments and infused with memories and hope.

This morning I turned on the tree lights before going to the kitchen to get coffee.  It was still just as pretty but when I reached the kitchen I realized there were tree reflections all around me.  That's when the last piece of the puzzle fell into its spot. When I was open to the possibility of seeing the beauty of the tree suddenly I began to see more beauty.

The beauty of your Advent gift of Love is complicated yet inherently simple.  It doesn't come wrapped in a pretty package and in fact it can be messy and hard.  If you want to experience more Love, you only need to do three things.  Give it away, honour it, and look for it around you.