Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details

When giving is receiving



Painting: “Wings of Freedom”
from Diane Kirkup / D. Kirkup Designs.

One year as the December holiday season approached, life gave me a precious experience in giving. One of the very last things I’d bought for my father the previous year was a Christmas tree. He’d been struggling to make peace with entering assisted-living care as he also entered the final months of his life. I was feverishly trying to create Christmas around him – in fast-forward — while my heart seemed to be simultaneously breaking in half.

My daughter helped me find an artificial tree, the very last one the store had, with twinkling tiny lights already attached. After my father died the following June, that tree and the box it came in got stockpiled, along with many other things I wasn’t ready to face quite yet. Finally, as the next Christmas neared, I knew it was time to pack it up, along with other things I needed to bring to the thrift shop. But it was very, very hard to think about taking it there.


Find this design at https://www.etsy.com/shop/DKirkupDesigns?page=2 – or enter below for a chance to win.

The following day, I drove a car packed to the gunwales to the local secondhand thrift store, feeling the weight of the grief and sadness that had been stirred by sorting through so many of my father’s things.

Then as I was unpacking the tree from my car, they magically appeared — a kind-faced young man with his little girl clutching his hand. They came up to me tentatively and asked very politely whether, if I planned to leave the tree there anyway, it might be OK for them to take it.

I hugged them both spontaneously then said that, of COURSE, I knew that it would delight my father if they were to have it, and I hoped that they were going to have an absolutely wonderful Christmas. The best they’d ever had.

Then I noticed the woman who was with them, standing off to the side. I was thinking that they all must think me crazy when she gave me a warm smile and thanked me, and then the other two, still a bit stunned by my response, began thanking me, as well. Her smile reminded me of my mother’s, I have to say.

In a little book called “The Hidden Words,” Baha’u’llah says of divine design, “To give and to be generous are attributes of Mine.”

What a gift it is to us when life allows our giving to be the precise answer to someone’s need.

From Life at First Sight: Finding the Divine in the Details

Through Dec. 18, 2015 – Enter to win the trees pictured above and a signed copy of the book by sending an email to info@phyllisring.com with “Trees” in the subject line.

See more of Diane Kirkup’s work at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/dkirkupdesigns

5 thoughts on “When giving is receiving

  1. Thank you for this post. I remember too well helping to clean out my grandparents’ home and all the mixed feelings running through my mind. Isn’t it wonderful when things work out so that another family is blessed with something as simple and as meaningful as a well-loved Christmas tree?

    I also think it’s great that you put Diane’s earrings and links to her site up. 🙂



  2. Ahhhh yes, the dreaded Clean Out, Part Two.
    Clean Out, Part One is the decision-making … which pile does this go in, the Keep or the Out? Then comes the packing up and distribution, with the firm resolve to go through all the boxes brought home and to let go of a bit more – which is where Part Two begins.
    Part Two took me a year to begin and is still, 6 years later, not done.
    You might wonder why it is taking me so long.
    This is why. During Part One, in my rush to get it all done, scrambling between time available and time committed, I somehow put something so special to me in the wrong box. It might seem like a silly little thing – a short-handled colander spoon – but it was a kitchen tool that my Mom used every day. Hearing her tap it on the pot let me know that it was time to gather for dinner. It was one of the handiest cooking tools she had. It was unique. It was the only one I have ever seen. And it was just like her – completely efficient and useful.
    There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss that colander spoon … and my Mom.
    I often go treasure-hunting at the local Goodwill and Salvation Army. I have seen other things from my parents’s house that I donated – always an enormous tug – but I have never found her colander spoon.
    I guess this leaves me open to a Part Three – finding a treasure I gave away in a hurry to finalize an era.
    Silly me.
    Thanks for your post, Phyllis. As always, it woke up my brain and my heart.

  3. Oh, Chris, how this hit home – especially those sightings of previous donations. Beautiful reflection.

  4. Gifts live on, and not just physical ones.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.