Late Spring 2013 -- Recognizing Gifts
Recently I had dinner with a friend who told me a story that brought tears to my eyes. My friend Paul and his wife have taken in a boarder from Ethiopia. This young man can't really afford to live on his own (they live in a very expensive part of the country) so my friends decided to help him out and let him live in their home for a nominal amount of rent every month. Alem immediately went out and found a job, enrolled in school, and started trying to make a better life for himself. His main means of transportation was his beloved bicycle. Then Paul came home one day and found his young boarder beyond upset. His bike had been vandalized and to repair it would have cost way more than the old bike was worth. Since this was his link to his job, his independence, and freedom, losing it was devastating.
Seeing Alem's desperate situation, Paul remembered that his wife had a bike in the basement that she never rode and offered it to him. Alem could not believe someone would offer him something so precious. To say that he appreciated and treasured this gift would be an understatement. He immediately gave the bike some TLC. He washed it and made it sparkle, tightened and oiled everything, and put air in the tires. To him, Paul had just given him his life back.
I can't get this story out of my mind. How many of us would have appreciated an old, unused bike? How many of us could have seen past the rust and the flat tires to realize the value of what was being offered? Life sometimes hands us "gifts," but unless they are shiny and sparkly, we often miss their significance. Alem had nothing so anything meant the world to him, and he instantly recognized what Paul had offered him. This spring, I hope all of our eyes will be open to the amazing gifts life hands us – even if they aren't in "perfect" condition.