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The journey often is part of the gift

Published on -8/22/2014, 8:44 AM

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It was a celebration. The young woman had been in a community for one year. The whole town had been invited. The young woman was nervous. You never are sure when you embrace a new place if, in fact, they will welcome or reciprocate your feelings. Partway through the gathering, she was asked to open the gifts she had received.

After opening several packages, she came to a plain box. No wrapping paper or bow, no card. She opened it only to find a shell. It was different from any she had seen before, and she wondered about its origins. She had many other gifts to open and consequently had to wait to find out more about the shell. After asking many about who had presented the shell, she finally found the giver.

She began asking about the shell she had been given because she never had seen one so beautiful. The young giver of the shell told her it only was found in the shallows of a particular cove. The cove was only known to a few locals, for it was a carefully guarded secret. The young woman pondered this for several minutes. She knew they were miles from the ocean. The giver seemed to know her next question. It had taken several hours to walk to the cove. This meant the giver had to leave home, work and family for some considerable time to retrieve the gift.

The young woman was torn; this was too great a sacrifice. The giver smiled, "The journey is part of the gift."

These days, if we consider "the journey is a part of the gift," what does our gift/journey look like? Is the gift/journey fraught with worry, distractions and anger? Is our gift/journey nestled in peace, contentment and mystery?

For many in our community, region, state, nation and world, the gift is wrapped with disillusionment and distress. We might not personally feel it, but our neighbors, both near and far, certainly do. From the distress of the lack of moisture on our prairies and cropland, to the plight of living at the crossroads of urban life, the pressure mounts and the precious gift becomes lackluster and dull. In these days, we can shoulder portions of the gift/journey with our neighbors, both far and near, by standing with them for peace, equality, civility and patience. The God of justice patiently waits for our return and tenderly wraps our gift/journey in love and care for each of us to discover.

The Rev. Jerre W. Nolte is senior pastor at First United Methodist Church of Hays.

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