What Gifts Open Your Heart?

Recently I helped a friend collect and distribute clothing for the homeless. She’s been doing this for eight years and taught me her system of neatly folding and displaying the items so that people can choose what they want, almost as if they were in a store.

I’ve had amazingly profound conversations over those neatly folded bins of clothing. But what has bowled me over the most has been the intensity of their expressions of

Ambro/FreeDigitalPhotos.netthanks.  Each and every person, whether taking just a pair of socks or a bag full of sweaters and coats, expressed heartfelt thanks so genuinely that it shot straight to my heart.

Last time one of the women couldn’t thank us enough as she tried on different items and filled a bag full of clothes. As we were leaving she offered us a few pieces of fruit. Her way of thanking us included giving us something in return.

Traditional Hawaiian culture teaches that we are always to give first. Imagine such a world; one where we share what we have and extend ourselves first rather than waiting to see what we can get or what will be given.

Perhaps it’s inevitable that we (myself included) have lost some of the capacity to feel that kind of deep appreciation for the gifts given to us. I am working on seeing what gifts can open my heart each day: something beautiful in nature, a meal prepared by a friend, a smile from a stranger, a hot shower, a dog eager to see me. When I take things for granted, let alone feel entitled, gratitude doesn’t stand a chance.

Published 2/26/16