“What comes from the heart goes to the heart.”
– Samuel Taylor Coleridge

I attended my husband Steve’s choral holiday concert yesterday.  I sat there in waves of awe, appreciation, and delight.  This group is a community chorus that meets once a week to sing and prepare for this concert.  There are no auditions so anyone with a love of singing and willingness to devote time to sing for others can join.  I was well aware of the gift being given me during that hour as well as the gift that the audience was giving in listening and being there. (This was especially true for the football fans who had come to the concert while their team of playing!)

I think that the idea of gifts this time of year is best seen and experienced as a verb—as gift-ing.  When so much attention is given by business and the media on the economics of buying gifts, the spirit of gift-ing can be lost or crunched under the weight of artificial demands and expectations.

As I see it, Gift-ing is an interaction of the heart between people.  It is an exchange of the rhythm of life – of giving and receiving.  When we give from our hearts we open a pathway that allows us to receive from the other the experience of knowing that we’ve enhanced their lives.  When we receive freely the gift of another’s loving actions toward us we give them the gift of letting them know they have made a positive difference.  Both people in gift-ing this way give the message that the other matters to us just for being who they are.  And knowing that we matter just as we are – not only for what we do or can provide for the other – is one of the most healing and soothing gifts for this season. 

As I was leaving the concert yesterday, a man in front of me turned around and asked me if I noticed the blind woman in the chorus.  I said that I had.  He marveled at her for memorizing all the music without being able to read it.  I could see the appreciation on his face (and it didn’t seem to matter that he had missed the football game I had heard him ask the score for from another person).   I knew he had received the gift she had offered.  It was a sweet moment of witnessing giving and receiving at its best for me.

Whether you purchase a gift, or give time, energy, or attention, let it all be infused with your loving heart.  This is a gift to yourself as giving in this way spreads bits of love in every cell of your bodymind!  And then allow yourself to receive the gift of appreciation back.

Here are a couple of gift-ings for you.  I love flash mobs for the surprise they offer and the gift-ing of delight they provide.  This first one is offered in the holiday spirit for all.  The second one is specific for the Christmas season.

About the author

Suzanne Kilkus

Suzanne Kilkus is a Soto Zen meditation practitioner and teacher and has practiced as a therapist and counselor for over three decades. She is dedicated to assisting people in expanding their capacity for giving and receiving love, and for recognizing and expressing their basic goodness in everyday life. Her path to live with wholehearted compassion and care is an invitation to everyone. She is a teacher with Open Door Zen Community in Madison, WI.