Friday, October 13, 2006

Coat of many colours

Standing in my room is a pretty little mouse made from a piece of coal, a present given two weeks before a friend's heart attack and sudden death in 1987.

That little mouse is worth very little as far as money is concerned. In my heart, it is priceless and is something I could never give away. It is the last tangible contact I have with someone who meant a great deal to me.

Also in my possession is a letter, written on a single sheet of paper forty years ago. My grandmother, who died when I was only fourteen years old, wrote it. The letter was written to congratulate me on passing an exam at school. Once again, that piece of paper is of no monetary value whatsoever, but nothing would make me willingly part with it.

It’s an interesting fact of life that some things only acquire value because of their association with someone whom we love dearly. That connection makes something valuable that, in the eyes of the world, is without any value at all. How could a piece of coal and a sheet of paper become so precious that I could not think of letting them go from my possession? Simply because seeing them and holding them bring back to me people who are no longer present with me on this earth and can only come to me in my memory and my thoughts.

Looking at that letter, written by my grandmother, I can see her smile and I can feel her cheeks, which always felt smooth and cold when I kissed her. I can remember pretending to fall asleep on her lap just so that I could have her all to myself for a long bus journey in which we were sitting together. One piece of paper brings back memories of the time she would visit us on a Thursday. I can enjoy again our conversations, even though they took place forty years ago.

Loving someone means that a very small gift becomes more meaningful and precious than the greatest treasure given by someone who does not give with love. How many mothers, for instance, will take a gift of a half-dead flower from the sticky hand of a small child and will put that flower in the best vase in the most important place in the house for everyone to see? Most mothers will do that and won’t think they have done anything special. In fact, they will talk about how much it meant to them to be given that half-dead flower.

There is a song that says that love changes everything. It does. “Love makes the world go around”, says another song. Yet another says “I cannot live in a world without love”. None of us can.

In the Old Testament, we hear of Joseph being given a coat of many colours by his father. Perhaps it looked silly, but it meant something to Joseph because a loving father gave him the coat. He wore the coat because it was a sign of love. It’s love that makes life special. It’s love that makes even the smallest gift priceless.

Lord, help me today to appreciate the people who love me. Let me be full of gratitude for the gift of love. Help me, Lord, to always celebrate your gift of love that makes my life worth living. Teach me to give love generously to all those who will cross my path today. Amen

God bless,
Sr. Janet