The greatest gift is to love and be loved.
Posted in , Dec 19, 2011
What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? Psalm 116:12
Christmas Eve came almost three weeks after my heart surgery. I was thrilled to be back at church, delighted to see so many dear friends after the rigors of hospitalization. The minister even announced that I was present. I rose to my feet, my hands in my pockets and a scarf wrapped around my neck to keep me warm, and received a round of applause. I waved to my cohorts in the balcony where for countless Christmas Eves I’d sung with the choir. It sounded like they were managing fine without me.
Sharing a hymnal with my son, I was having a little trouble singing. No doctor had warned me about this. They said it would take a while before I would be walking at a quick pace or running or going to the gym, but they didn’t tell me that my breath for singing would go wonky on every other note. I’d sing a phrase and then have to rest to sing the next one. One venerable carol after another, and I was only half present, if that. Usually we like to divide parts as a family and harmonize together. Well, I was pretty useless. How can I celebrate Christmas if I can’t sing?
Then we came to one of my favorite carols, “In the Bleak Midwinter," and I wanted to throw down the book at the ugly croaking I was making. But there in the last verse was the message I needed to hear: “What can I give him, poor as I am?” The answer from Christina Rossetti, the lyricist: “Give him my heart.” Nothing more, nothing less. I didn’t have to sing a stirring tenor descant from the loft. All I needed to do was love and be loved.
What I can give, Lord, I give: my heart, my self.