Saturday, December 14, 2013

*Because I Have Been Given Much

Holiday headquarters
Setting an intention for my day is a fairly new thing for me.  If that terminology sounds unfamiliar to you, think of it as setting a goal for your attitude.  Desiring to experience happiness and joy throughout my day, I find I'm more successful when I set an intention for myself.  

Some of my most favorite intentions are compassion, love, and service. Other common intentions are gratitude, peace, and joy.  Living with intention gives my life purpose and meaning.  My days seem fuller, and more rich, as I have strived to live my life with intention; much more so than on the days that I tuck and roll, and hit the floor running, without a thought about my attitude, or my spiritual development.

My focus these last few weeks has been service.  When Bridger and I bless our breakfast during the morning, I usually ask that we'll be aware of the needs of those around us. That prayer is answered nearly daily, and I try to respond to the promptings I feel.  Lately, I have been touched by the spirit, moved to tears even, as I come into contact with these people I have invited into my life through my intention.

No Mother Teresa, I have not dedicated my life to living among the untouchables, giving my life to those in need. I tend to be a fairly selfish person, and I have to push myself out of my comfort zone to respond to another's situation. The more I do this, though, the easier it is becoming.  

I started out with simple things, like sending a Facebook message to someone having a bad day, mailing a card to a faraway friend battling cancer, or sending a small gift to someone mourning the loss of a loved one. Each time I have followed through on the glimmer of inspiration to offer my hand in fellowship, I find I am the one receiving the blessings of peace, satisfaction, and a heart swelling with love.

As had become my habit, before Bridger left for school, I prayed that we would find ways to be of service to those in need. I hadn't slept well, excited by the opportunity to help someone during the holiday with my friends at school.  I finally fell asleep as the clock approached midnight, and I was wide awake by four. 

That afternoon, I was relaxing in my recliner, wishing I could just catch a little cat nap. When it was evident that wasn't going to happen, I decided to head to town early, and... do what?  I wasn't sure.  I could always go to the grocery store while I was there.  

It was well below freezing, but the car warmed up quickly, having spent the night in the garage. As I drove toward the church to make the turn down Bullion Canyon Road, I saw her, a woman bent from age on the side of the road. She was struggling to make her way through the snow, lifting her fur-lined boots high enough to place them carefully in the drifts. I could tell by her posture and frail frame that she was my elderly neighbor I had only seen from a distance.  

She's very independent, tending to the weeds that love to grow along the road in front of her house, and living alone in her tidy little home.  She was bundled up in a long coat, and had a hat pulled tightly over her ears, her arm clutching her purse tightly against her side. Carefully avoiding the ice on the street, she was slowly walking through the crunchy snow along the road's edge.  

"Hello!" I yelled to her, as the window rolled down.  "Can I take you somewhere?"  She stopped, and her eyes looked up from her woolen cap. Her wrinkled face broke into a smile.

"Why, yes. That would be nice."  It took her a few moments to make it across the ice to my car, and she plopped down in the seat. She had already walked close to a half a mile in the frigid weather. My car said it was 25 degrees (Fahrenheit).  As we drove down the steep hill, I introduced myself, and she told me her name.  Her old two-wheel drive truck wasn't much good in the snow, and the last time she drove it, she had gotten stuck, and a man from town saw she needed help. He got her car out of its predicament, and then drove her home in it.

That's the great thing about Marysvale. Anyone who sees someone in need of a ride will offer to help, but because we're a small town (population, 392, according to the last census), the chances of running into another person out on a freezing cold winter day aren't very good.  I whispered a silent "thank you" that I had left early enough that I could be at her disposal.

She told me I could just drop her off at the post office.  (And have her walk the mile back home up that steep hill in this weather, her arms full of mail and groceries?) No. I knew why I'd left early now. I just relaxed, and asked her what she needed to do today. We drove to the post office to collect several days' worth of mail, and then we drove to Tugs, our local market, to get her cat some food, and a few necessities. Her bright eyes were full of gratitude. "You're such an angel," she kept saying. I'm not angelic, as my friends can tell you, but if angels are God's hands, I suppose in that sense, I was her angel that day.

By the time we returned to our house, she had told me a little about herself.  Her eyes sparkled as she let me know she could take care of herself, but that she appreciated the ride more than I could know. I offered to pick her up for the community Christmas dinner held at one of the local churches that night. She said she used to go to those, but at 88, two things she just doesn't do much any more is drive in the snow, or go out at night. I could see there was no arguing there. I gave her a hug, and helped her get out of the car. She stood on her porch as I drove out of her driveway.  

The hymn "Because I Have Been Given Much" came to my mind as I drove to town that afternoon.  I am not a big fan of hymns; I will be honest, but the ones that touch me focus on gratitude, like "Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow" and service.  My distaste for church music goes back to my childhood, when I was in fifth and sixth grade.  As a matter of fact, when my piano teacher informed me that although I wasn't doing that well in my lessons, and I would probably never understand the concept of rhythm, the next step in learning piano would be learning to play hymns.  I couldn't imagine anything worse. So I quit. I suppose you could say I lacked a certain passion for piano. Finding creative ways to get out of practicing my songs was more my passion when I was about 12.

Over the years, I have discovered inspiration in beautiful music, and yes, some of the songs I have grown to love are actually hymns.  I found one of my favorite songs on YouTube, "Because I Have Been Given Much" sung by the Reprise Quartet. In case you are unfamiliar with the song, or perhaps you just love music, I am including it here.  This just touches my heart.
Here is my favorite verse:  
Because I have been given much, I too must give.
Because of thy great bounty, Lord each day I live.
I shall divide my gifts from thee with every brother that I see,
who has the need of help from me.
Because I have been sheltered, fed by thy good care…
I cannot see another’s lack and I not share-
my glowing fire, my loaf of bread-my roof’s safe shelter over head,
that he too may be comforted.
So today, as I sit in my comfortable recliner, listening to the carols of Christmas in front of our glowing Christmas tree, I will set my intention.  Today I will focus my mind on gratitude.  For those of you who stop in to read my blog from time to time, I know it may seem that I complain too much, or act plain silly, or worry about inconsequential things, but I really do have a grateful heart.  I may grumble about tending our WOOD STOVE, but I am so grateful for a warm, cozy house.  I may worry about my WARDROBE, but I know what a blessing it is to have clothing that fits, and protects me from the elements.  I may have BAD DAYS of my own, but I know they are only temporary.  

My greatest blessing in my life is the connection I feel with my family and friends. My temporal blessings are many; my basic needs of food, shelter, and clothing are met well beyond the minimums required for comfort, and my own needs few.  BECAUSE I have been given so much, I am grateful, and will look for new opportunities during the coming new year to be of service to those around me.  Really, how can I "see another's lack, and I not share?" You may want to find an intention of your own, and see the difference in makes in your life, and the lives of those around you. I hope that you will have the joy of Christmas this holiday season, and find ways to make a difference, no matter how small.


  1. What a wonderful thing you did for this neighbor. Funny isn't it how when we are of service to others we seem to get just as much if not more from it?

    1. Thank you, Susan. The beauty of karma is its far-reaching effects. We will never balance the scales. The more we give, the more we receive.

  2. You are more of an inspiration than you will ever know, Denise. So grateful you are sharing with this blog.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read it, Carol. You are a good friend.

  3. Good one, Denise. The spirit and tears. I live too much by tuck-and-roll, esp since the boyos joined us. Needs to change.

    1. "To everything there is a season..." One of my favorite scriptures. You do plenty. Raise that beautiful family of yours; that's a plenty.


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