In and of itself, the gift is not unique. It’s standard issue for every human being. But when it is employed by us who are one-of-a-kind individuals, gets mixed with our specific spiritual DNA, filtered through our unique life perspectives and flung out there into the world around us, it becomes undeniably ours and ours alone and bears our stamp.
Some choose not to open the gift. It sits there in the closet. Its shiny ribbons catch the light every time we get our coats as we dash out into the busy and often unconscious world to earn our daily bread. We know it's there. We’ve picked it up from time to time, rattled it a bit, imagined what it might be, but often it’s returned to its hiding place unopened as we prioritize feeding our bodies over feeding our souls.
Some have opened their gifts slowly, often in the middle of their lives. With gratitude and humility, awed by the potential power, they revere it as the box of internal tools in which to build character and affect positive change.
Others get their gift ripped open way too early before they’re mature enough to know what it was really for. They get catapulted to the top of the human ladder but soon find that the ‘glory’ of the gift, without the required character to sustain it, leaves them burdened instead of humbled, humiliated.
Others peek into the box cautiously. Alone, with the door locked looking over their shoulders, they marvel at the gift but don’t feel worthy or wise enough to make it run. Finally, they take it outside. In broad daylight, they sit in the driver's seat, smell the upholstery and even put the keys into the ignition. But the vision of taking it out for a test drive on the chaotic highway of life is mortifying. The ‘what ifs', the unknowns and the idea of surrendering to it and thus feeling out of control, is too much to bear. So they stuff it back into the box, put it back into the closet and wonder about it and, if not regretfully, pine over it.
There are those who take it out of the closet and put it on the mantel. They flirt with it from time to time; they flaunt it privately to close friends, even brag that not opening it shows a rare sign of discipline. Nonchalantly they declare that they’ll open it when they’re damned ready—if ever.
Others save, if not hoard, the gift as an investment only to be opened and used if the choices they’ve made without it, on their own, go to hell in a hand basket. Then there are those who think it’s a prize and somehow transferable. It emboldens them to be martyrs as they treat it as a legacy to be sacrificed and opened like a dowry, but only after they depart. But the gift is not transferable because it is ours and ours alone to do with (because of our inalienable freedom) as we choose to.
So what is this gift?
What it isn’t is something like toothpaste--meaning once you've dispensed it you can’t put it back in the tube. I should know. I’ve opened my gift many times. I’ve used and reused it. I’ve abused it, crammed it back into its box in the garage and abandoned it. I’ve half opened it, sold off parts of it only to then be detoured for years having to retrieve the shards and paste them back together again. I’ve kicked it down the hall, brooded about it, chastised it, honored it, extolled its virtues and denied it.
I’ve watched it take many forms every time I beat the crap out of it. Sometimes it’s talent, sometimes its creativity, sometimes its faith. Sometimes its monstrous and sometimes comforting. I’ve wielded it as a sword and used it as a bandage. But with it, I have grown and am better to have had an ambivalent relationship with it than none at all.
What I’ve learned it is… is forgiveness. It’s given to us humans as standard issue to connect us and get us through lives that are, by design, inherently and intentionally flawed. Within forgiveness births our clarity, our tolerance, our humanity and humility and as we continually exercise it on ourselves and others, we earn joy and ultimately peace, while here.
So you’ve been warned. It is not a toy. But to not open it out of fear is not to live the whole gamut of what it is to experience the unbelievable rareness of your own light.