WHEN GIVING IS ALL WE HAVE - by Alberto Rios
*One river gives
Its journey to the next.*
We give because someone gave to us.
We give because nobody gave to us.
We give because giving has changed us.
We give because giving could have changed us.
We have been better for it,
We have been wounded by it--
Giving has many faces: It is loud and quiet,
Big, though small, diamond in wood-nails.
Its story is old, the plot worn and the pages too,
But we read this book, anyway, over and again:
Giving is, first and every time, hand to hand,
Mine to yours, yours to mine.
You gave me blue and I gave you yellow.
Together we are simple green. You gave me
What you did not have, and I gave you
What I had to give—together, we made
Something greater from the difference.
~ ALBERTO RIOS © 2014 for the Academy of American Poets today
Used with permission. To learn more about this poet, go to http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/alberto-rios
This beautiful poem turns my thoughts to a passage of scripture. Jesus talks about what it means to be a disciple in Matthew 10. At the end of his teaching, He says, “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”
This is a guide to being a follower and reflector of Christ. Not everyone is called to be a great teacher or powerful evangelist. Not everyone is called to be a reformer or influencer of nations. But anyone and everyone can extend their hands and give cups of cold water.
By their very nature, cups of cold water are small things, easily forgettable if you aren’t paying attention. The people who extend them do not draw attention to themselves, but life would be poor, indeed, without those small, and I would argue significant, acts.
Moving Mom to Grand Rapids opened up a treasure trove of cups. So many people helped pack, transport, move, and clean…it was amazing. People I knew, and some I didn’t know at all came out to help. In one day, her house was cleaned out, her furniture was transported and cleaned and her apartment was set up and made hospitable. Each person did a part so that I didn’t have to do it all. That was a day of incredible blessing to us.
One woman took her dog to visit Mom occasionally, which delighted her. Another volunteered to pick her up for church every single week. Another would go walking with us in a nearby park. When I had to ready Mom’s house for sale, people extended help of all kinds. Painting, patching, ripping out carpets, visiting, and encouraging. Whatever they were able to give, it was all appreciated and refreshing.
Cups of cold water seem insignificant, especially in a world that screams that to be successful and fulfilled, you need to have notoriety. But the Lord notices what is done to and for the least of His followers. It seems it’s not the cost, nor the skill, nor even the quantity He observes. He’s paying attention to the motive. What we do to His followers because they are His, He will repay with the riches of His grace. While many of the people who offered help loved me or my mother, many didn’t know me at all – they just wanted to extend God’s grace through their lives.
The giving and receiving of cups of refreshment makes something great and beautiful.
Whilst in the grip of the icy polar vortex, I pulled out spring colors and experimented with a new painting medium. I chose these particular colors to remind me that there is indeed hope that spring will eventually come.
In the past, I’ve worked in pastels and in oils on linen. Now, I’m playing with acrylic on ClaybordTM. Parts of the painting worked, and some parts didn’t. With the help of a table saw, I created several smaller paintings.
Recently, there was a call for small paintings with a garden theme from IAM – International Arts Movement – to help fund new programming. The auction is April 23 during Ruby Garden Dreams with T. S. Poetry Press. The event is in honor of National Poetry Month, and is an evening of music, poetry, and art. The auction tickets are available for $40 – first come first serve basis. Each auction ticket holder will take home one piece per ticket. I have sent a couple of the paintings to them.
If you find yourself in NYC in April, stop in Space 38|39 for the evening. Their address is International Arts Movement 38 West 39th Street, 3rd Floor New York, NY 10018. The space is in the heart of Manhattan.
To view the online catalog and to purchase a ticket for the raffle, go to http://www.internationalartsmovement.org/art-auction-catalogue-2014/
It was 8 a.m. and I was sitting in a local park, listening to the birds call back and forth. While scientists have ascertained that what they are really doing is proclaiming their territory (essentially saying, “Mine! Mine! Mine!”), I prefer a more poetic view of their melodious work.
Birdsong brings relief
to my longing
I'm just as ecstatic as they are,
but with nothing to say!
Please universal soul,
practice some song
The poem turns into a prayer. “Please Lord, practice Your song, Your love, Your joy, Your artistry through me.” As I pray this, my thoughts turn to the Psalms, which are prayers turned into poetry. Learning them has been a good way to increase my prayer vocabulary. What do the Psalms say about birds singing? “The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches,” Psalm 104:12. They are singing in earnest this morning.
The singing birds, the lush green park, the summer morning mist continue my meditations toward the psalms. “Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I entrust my life," Psalm 148:3.
Worship and poetry entwined.
Later in the week, I returned to that prayer. “Please Lord, practice Your song, Your love, Your something through me.” This was as I was approaching a restaurant to meet a friend who was grieving. I wanted to serve the Lord well, and my friend well. What I thought would be an hour or two, ended up being an entire day of loving service as we went to a park, talked about loss, had ice cream, lost her keys, and retraced all our steps.
As I was driving home, I realized that God had taken me up on my prayer. What I think is important to do (projects, generally), is not as important in His economy. A grieving heart in need of comfort and company was His plan for that day. What if I had not made myself available to Him to practice His song of love? He would have found another way to bring comfort, but I would have lost a valuable experience and lesson. I would not have been God's song.
Donna Kemper put aside her art career to care for a mother she hadn't seen in over a decade. For seven years she followed her mother's journey into dementia, caring for her and putting forgiveness into action.