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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Gifts

Photo Credit:  pippalou from
It seems to me that there is always quite a bit more bulk to winter laundry.  The pile gets taller much faster with jeans, long-sleeve shirts, socks, jackets, and sweaters. Winter clothes take up lots more space in the washer than tank tops and shorts do, ya know? 

As I was doing a load last week, I forgot about a hand towel in the hall bathroom that needed washing, so I ran to throw it in at the last minute.  Much to my dismay, when I opened the top-load washer lid, all I saw were dry clothes jostling around a bit to the hum of the washer motor.  What on earth?!

I thought our old, um, “wise” 1990’s washer finally bit the dust.  Then, I noticed that the water level knob had somehow been moved to low instead of high.  Washing a BIG (too big probably) load of clothes in 4 inches of water never works out, I assure you.

So, I reset all the knobs correctly and started over again.

Water.  Precious water.  It is overlooked most days, I think.  Our bodies need water.  The earth needs water.  Animals need water.  Plants need water.  My laundry needed…a skosh more water.

There is a beautiful reflection by Bruce Barton called, “Two Seas in Palestine” that discusses water…and…love, actually.

There are two seas in Palestine.  One is fresh, and fish are in it.  Splashes of green adorn its banks.  Trees spread their branches over it and stretch out their thirsty roots to sip of its healing waters.  The River Jordan makes this sea with sparkling water from the hills.  So it laughs in the sunshine.  And men build their houses near to it, and birds their nests; and every kind of life is happier because it is there.

The River Jordan flows on out into another sea.  Here there is no splash of fish, no fluttering leaf, no song of birds, no children’s laughter.  Travelers choose another route, unless on urgent business. The air hangs heavy above its water, and neither man nor beast nor fowl will drink.

What makes this mighty difference in these neighbor seas?  Not the River Jordan.  It empties the same good water into both.  Not the soil in which they lie; not in the country round about.

This is the difference.

The Sea of Galilee receives, but does not keep the Jordan.  For every drop that flows into it, another drop flows out.  The giving and receiving go on in equal measure.  The other sea is shrewder, hoarding its income jealously.  It will not be tempted into any generous impulse. Every drop it gets, it keeps.

The Sea of Galilee gives and lives.  This other sea gives nothing.  It is named Dead.  There are two kinds of people in this world.  There are two seas in Palestine.

I thoroughly enjoyed this piece, especially since my sister-in-law, Kerri, just returned from the Holy Land, telling me all about these very seas!  She floated on the stillness of the lifeless Dead Sea and walked in the plentiful Sea of Galilee.  She passionately told me about the drastic differences in these bodies of water as we shared Thanksgiving dinner.  Her pictures and stories were fascinating!

I cherish what Matthew Kelly has to say about Barton’s reflection as well.  He says, “The world pretends that love is a mutual giving and taking.  But, that is not love.  In love, there is no taking, just giving and receiving.”  (LOVE this!)

The Dead Sea gives nothing.  It only takes.  It hoards.  It keeps.  It amasses.  It stockpiles.  It collects.  I pray that we strive to be different than this sea.  I pray that we will give and receive love as freely as the Sea of Galilee.  I pray that we will share God’s love unselfishly.  At the heart of it, we all yearn for chances to love and be loved.  Let’s take lessons from Galilee.

After reflecting on this kind of love, I was inspired to write a poem to share with you today, as I think about the Christmas season:

by Heather Spears Kallus

Advent begins - single digits of December,
In the hustle and the bustle, there’s something to remember.
It’s all about the gifts, many will say,
Paper, bows, and boxes on sale every day.
What to get?  What to buy?
Hurry, scurry - no time for hi.
It’s about the gifts underneath the tree,
One for him, one for her, a couple more for me.
Push and shove, the hunt is on,
But where’s the love?  Where’s it gone?
I don’t believe it’s gone for good,
I think it’s there…misunderstood.
Don’t fret; don’t worry - the presents are great,
But there’s more to it.  You’ll see.  Please wait.
It’s about the gifts; I could not agree more,
And, we should give more than we’ve ever before.
The gifts of selfless love and that of fervent prayer,
Which can be given and received absolutely anywhere.
We can love because He loved us first,
For love, so many, hunger and thirst.
By allowing God’s love to flow freely out,
We’ll begin to see what His love is about.
A life uncommon, our relationships deep,
God’s love is for sharing, not something we keep.
Love is a choice, not a feeling that goes,
It’s the perfect gift and doesn’t even need bows.
Love desires what’s best for sisters and brothers,
Love is kind and it’s patient, not jealous of others.
If someone offers prayer for you this very year,
I’m certain you’ll be smiling - from ear to ear.
It’s about the gifts; but please let us remember,
It’s gifts of love and prayer.  They’ll last beyond December.

I’ll end with these great words from Father Pedro Arrupe:  “What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.  It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.  Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.”

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!


  1. Could I use this to post in a church newsletter?

    1. Hi there! Yes, I would love for you to share my poem in your church newsletter! If you don't mind including my name, Heather Spears Kallus, and the blog link, that would be super duper! Merry Christmas!