Preparing breakfast early one morning this week, my little ones (now ages eight and six) sat at the table and waited for their favorite part of the breakfast, hot chocolate. I balanced preparing their snacks, lunches for school and my thoughts. I asked my girls, if you were visiting the baby Jesus, what gifts would you take? My oldest one chimed in with a bright smile and said, “I would take him my prayers…” My youngest, shortly thereafter exclaimed, “I would take him all that I am.” Each of my daughters reminded me of the essence of what it means to have an authentic relationship with God.
Thinking about my daughters' responses, I recall a colleague of mine who was heavily involved in the last political campaign. In his early sixties, he relentlessly and kindly shared his views when the opportunity presented itself. He educated himself on the issues, shared his opinion, and more than that, simply handed out bumper stickers to anyone who accepted them. Like my children, he exemplified what it means to give. He is not a prominent figure in the community, or a commentator on a popular news channel. He is a warmhearted man giving all that he is for what he believes important.
JoanChittister (1992), in her book, The Rule of Benedict states, “We can study church history forever and never become holier for the doing. There are theology courses all over the world that have nothing whatsoever to do with the spiritual life. In the same way, we may think we are a community or assume we are family but if we do not serve one another we are, at best, a collection of people who live alone together" (p. 169). There are many challenges in the world to deal with, but in them we find opportunities to have an authentic relationship with God by giving and serving our neighbors. In choosing this path, we deliver to Jesus the greatest and most important gift we can give. When we give all that I am, home life is enriched, our communities more neighborly and the world is a better place, but it must first begin in the mind and heart that springs forth in prayer and continues with a heart that is open to exclaim, I will give all that I am.