Monday, March 21, 2011
gifts and shadows
One of the ways I give of myself is to make things for other people. Like the cross stitch I am doing for my grandsons. Like sweaters I have knit, quilts I have made, clothes and Halloween costumes I have sewn, scrapbook albums I have created, and so on. Let there be no mistake, I find joy in the creating, a sort of incarnational expression of love for the recipient. One hopes, of course, that the recipient will be pleased with and appreciate what is created and given, but how something is received is not tied to the desire to create and give. The heart wants to give and share a part of itself, and so we find a way to express what is in our hearts through what we create.
Over the years I have created and given a number and variety of things to the people in my life. If memory serves, such gifts have been acknowledged with gladness and love, and generally, with enthusiasm.
There have been other times when I have invested myself in creating an experience for others that isn't about relationship, but is about offering a part of myself. For example, a number of years ago I picked up some odds and ends for a kind of grab bag at a vestry retreat. No one knew that they would be receiving any sort of gift. The grab bag event took place toward the end of the retreat. It was fun, involved laughter and the kind of kibbitzing that bore witness to the bonding that had taken place during our time together. To a person, no one acknowledged the thought behind it or referred to the grab bag ever again. That was disappointing.
I have done other grab bags, or things like that, and none have received a word of thanks or even recognition. I don't create to give with strings attached. I do claim that it is disappointing not to have the effort acknowledged or appreciated. I ask myself sometimes why I bother, but it never stops me from doing it again. I give of myself because it is what I want to do.
All of us face disappointment when what we give of ourselves goes unnoticed or unacknowledged. Whether it's something we've created, a skill we bring to a project or the workplace, or an expression of compassion, we share who we are. How are you affected by and how do you process such disappointment?