De' fliengde Vuogtlänn'r

Observations, rants, etc. from a guy who really gets around.


Secretive Santa

OK, so I'm sitting here rotting my brain in front of the one-eyed god and doing stuff on-line, when the doorbell rings.

Huh? Who comes to visit me at 9:30 on Christmas Eve?

My Bishop.


Someone in the Ward wanted to send me an anonymous Christmas present. Nice. (Even though I've long contended that Christmas doesn't come in a package, but that's another story.)

We chatted a bit, but I still don't know who my anonymous benefactor is. And thereby hangs a tale.

More years ago than I care to admit to, when I was living in Provo, there was a young lady in our Branch who spoke in Church and although I don't remember the bulk of her talk, I do remember her decrying the habit of some people of doing things anonymously. She was more in favor of the personal touch. (Of course, afterwards some of us got to talking and someone suggested that we bake 10,000 cookies, pile them on her doorstep, and then ring the bell and go hide in the bushes. Unfortunately, we never followed thru.)

But this evening's incident reminded me of a story I read somewhere around that time. It was a commentary on James Russell Lowell's Vision Of Sir Launfal (q.v.), an epic poem wherein our knight errant departs on the stereotypical fool's errand of searching for the "Holy Grail".

As Sir Launfal departs, arrayed in his finery and mounted on his trusty steed, he's stopped by a leper begging at the castle gate. Not wanting to be delayed in his quest, he tosses the old beggar a gold coin and rides off. Years later, he returns -- dented, banged up, not even riding his horse -- and what does he see at the castle gate? The same old beggar. So he sits himself down, pulls out his last crust of bread, and tells the beggar the story of his failed quest. As he finishes his narrative, the beggar is transformed before his eyes and Sir Launfal beholds his Savior, who says these words:

"The Holy Supper is kept, indeed,
In whatso we share with another's need;
Not what we give, but what we share
for the gift without the giver is bare.
Who gives himself with his alms feeds three --
himself, his hungering neighbor, and Me"

Do something nice for someone today. Just don't do it anonymously.


At 01:16, Blogger Lucy Stern said...

Don't worry your brains out over who gave you the gift...Be grateful for their caring and enjoy the gift...Maybe someday you can "pay it forward" to another soul....

At 10:16, Blogger Southern Kiwi said...

I agree. Sometimes it's enough to know that there's someone out there who cares and is thinking of you.

At 12:09, Blogger T. F. Stern said...

One of the best stories I recall about giving had to do with a challenge given to his flock. It was explained how there was a needy family living nearby and the Bishop proposed folks figure out ways to earn extra income that might be donated to assist that family.

One family took the challenge, even though they lived closed to their limit economically. The father took on a paper route in the early morning hours, the mother baked and sold loaves of bread while the kids collected empty soda cans that were sold as scrap metal. They collected a little over a hundred dollars which they gave the Bishop to help the poor family.

Then it turned out that the Bishop handed it back, seems they were the poor family that he wanted to help.

The sad part of the story, at least as I recall, was that they were the only family which took the Bishop up on his challenge to help.

I think we can all improve on our service to others, poor or not we all can use a little help now and then.

At 14:37, Blogger Debra said...

I know how you feel. I was the recipient of an anonymous gift this Christmas as well (I haven't yet, but I plan on writing about it in my blog soon). I do understand that people may not want a bunch of "praise" for something that to them was not done for the praise. I understand there are several reasons why someone may want to give anonymously. Some may be selfish, and some, like the giving of the gift itself, may not be selfish.

Still, on the receiving end, I know how hard it can be. It just doesn't emotionally feel right for me not to thank a person specifically and individually for their kindness and thoughtfulness. When possible and prudent, I want to throw my arms around their neck and thank them for their thoughtfulness. Sure, the psychologist in me also has other motives (like learning what motivated or inspired them to perform their act), but I also think it's human nature to not want to feel in someone else's debt when we can do something nice back for them.

As a result, I have decided to try to be nicer to any and every person who could have possibly been my anonymous giver. I will also pay it forward. And you know what? I have given (anonymously and not) with no thought of return, so maybe this is my thanks (or karma, if you will) finally returned to me.

At 16:30, Blogger Jahn said...

Isn't there something in the Scriptures about the giver and the recipient rejoicing together?

I guess there are pluses and minuses to both approaches.


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