The Gift

Have you ever received a gift but it came in a form you never expected (or thought you wanted) and you had trouble accepting it? Just me?

Well, I did recently receive a gift. I’ve come to understand the gift was what I wanted but it came in an unusual form that I thought I didn’t want. I was initially quick to complain that I couldn’t have what I wanted. It took me some time to see the gift for what it is: a gift.

Whatever its form, wherever its origin, it remains a gift. Merriam Webster defines gift as something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation. A transfer is a conveyance of right, title, or interest. It amounts to this: once conveyed, the gift was mine to do with as I will.

After first receiving the gift, it was so different in form from what my mind had cast forward that I didn’t recognize it as the thing I wanted. I couldn’t accept that it was the thing I had hoped for and longed for. Its shape was all wrong, I thought. The dimensions were entirely off. It didn’t even look like I thought it would. It couldn’t possibly be the thing I had carefully crafted in my mind.

The thing is, I could pretty easily discard the gift. I could pretty easily renounce it as useless. I could pretty easily let it go. Forget it.

Or I could not. I could embrace the gift. I could assign its purpose. I could hold on tight and let the gift just be. And remember it.

I could learn how new dimensions fit the grander vision the gift fits into. I could cast a new vision incorporating this new shape.

Like so many things in life, it’s a matter of perspective. And perspective is at least as much a matter of choice as it is a matter of circumstance.

What was the gift? It only really matters to me. No answer I write here would be truly satisfying to anyone else. But you probably have received a gift like this at some point, or will. A gift you thought might be pointless. A gift that you were quick to write off. A gift that, to be utilized, required you to recast your vision.

It’s a matter of perspective. A matter of choice. What will you do with the gift?

Shared Vision

I actually have / had a theme for this year. It is / was called Shared Vision. Typically it is something that would have filled the majority of space on this blog. For years now, I’ve selected a theme for the upcoming year sometime around October or November. I consider how that theme impacts all the different aspects of my life: wife, mother, friend, relative, citizen, financial provider, author, Christian. The spreadsheets are seriously impressive in January when comes the time to start meeting all those smart goals I established in the fall.

Then 2020.

I should end this post there, probably. The words “then 2020” have a specific, unique meaning to each of us, but they also have a universal core we can mutually understand. That we share.

Twenty-twenty has not thus far been the vision I expected to share within anyone. Most of my careful plans appear upended. Can’t go to a writing conference mid-pandemic, for example.

Six months in and it’s finally time to recast my vision. To my utter shock, most of my goals still have pathways even through pandemic, given that I and my immediate family are relatively safe and cloistered and employed.

Line by line through four printed pages of minute type in tiny boxes, and I see a way forward. Or at least a way to be here for a while.

Being present, being here now, has been somewhat of a struggle for me. Not just during pandemic but in all times. My mind tends to wander to ruminate on the past and to fantasize about the possible futures.

Now, during pandemic, more than ever before I need to anchor myself in the now. In the here. In what is and the way it is.

Happily, my shared vision theme document from last fall pretty perfectly sets the stage. There are some things that I can’t do, or that I choose not to do. But there are lots of other things I can work on where I am when I am.

And at least one shared vision is coming on Sunday…it’s Book Camp time! Book Camp looks way different this year. The kids are another year older and that much more capable. They’ve been in near-isolation since spring break. Virtually no other camps, except a virtual camp, have been had this summer.

More than that, I have a formal job now. Book Camp and work–wait, what?! It’s really only possible because this is the sixth Book Camp (seven years since we started, but that one summer we moved to Florida) and because the kids are teens or nearly so. The schedule has a Book Camp Intensive before work and one after work, teatime mid-afternoon, and loads of other neat perks. In between, though, the kids will be self-directed, working on assignments and the big group opus.

The two families have undertaken what a niece calls “severe quarantine” for two weeks leading up to camp. This is serious business.

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Oh, and did I mention Book Camp is TWO WEEKS LONG this year? That’s right! Given the weird schedule and all, I don’t promise to blog every day this book camp, but I will keep you apprised.

To Book Camp! To shared visions! To being present even when “then 2020.”