Dec. 4, 2009: What is a gift? And what does it have to do with peace? by Sister Julie Christensen

December 4, 2009 by

This month we celebrate the season of giving and receiving. I know a certain sense of joy and contentment when I have received a gift that resembles my desire and have given a gift that resembles the likes of another.

I believe being from the heart of the country has given us generous and caring souls, but why?

Is it the way the earth gives us wheat so abundantly that inspires us to share our gifts so freely? Maybe it is the wind that constantly shares with us a renewed spirit of our humanity and that nudges us into action? Perhaps it is the sun that shines on the land in plentitude that stimulates growth that cannot be contained by any boundary.

For any and all the reasons I feel blessed to be able to acknowledge these innate gifts and see them gently multiply as time passes. These gifts bring me peace and certainty about the goal of life. They remind me of my responsibility and desire to do the same. They also remind me that gifts are never given in a closed circuit structure. The experience of a gift is felt by all, especially the more challenging gifts.

As I reflect, I ask myself, what does it mean to give? More importantly, where does my giving or gift come from? Who is the giver or the receiver? How does the gift resemble the giver? How am I giving what I have been gifted?

I think in the act of giving, sometimes we find what is fashionable, but mostly we give of our talents and of our abundance. In the act of receiving sometimes we open nicely wrapped packages, but more importantly we open our hearts and our lives and, if we are able, we receive what the giver is gifting. In this awareness, we are changed by each gift we receive and by each gift we give.

In light of the many questions and the certainty of the many gifts in my life, I know a desire to be more intentional about fostering that generosity. I want to give it a place to multiply and expand beyond the boundaries.

I know that with every breath I take I become more capable and strengthened in my awareness of the gifts in my life merely by the act of taking a breath. I know this awareness is what drives me to be more attentive to the gifts both given and received, in my life and in the lives of all those around me.

I find fostering generosity like one of the many important elements, gusts or rays of the Kansas Plains that make peace possible. This peace is a challenging gift that is awareness, strength and commitment in all of our experiences.


— Julie Christensen is a native of Concordia and is a Sister of St. Joseph living and studying at Manna House of Prayer. She is a member of the Concordia Year of Peace Committee.

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