One morning you stand leaning against the wall in your laundry hall, waiting for the washer to finish spinning a load, looking at a little wooden rack that holds five candles. You remember when your friend, Jesus, gave you those candles as a birthday gift about ten years ago. You loved them. They were different muted autumn colors, and had little I Ching coins tied around them with raffia. They were called Feng Shui candles. You carefully put them in the linen closet in anticipation of using them one day. Only that day never came, and now they sit on a window sill, sort of outgrowing their wrappings because the sun has modified their shape just a little. You were thinking about how you hadn’t used that gift because it was special, given by a special friend, and if you used it it’d be gone. And now they aren’t all that special looking any more. In fact, they could be sent to the Salvation Army as just one more piece of clutter, except they won’t be because they were a gift from your dear friend. So they sit there on the window sill, looking a little sorry.
You start thinking about gifts, and wondering what others you have been saving for just the right time. There is that box of silver stuff that came from your grandmother, a bowl and some pitchers and a huge platter, all stored in cunning little flannel bags with zippers, supposedly to keep it from tarnishing. You haven’t looked at it for so long you have no idea if it’s tarnished or not. Apparently you’re saving it for your kids to use after you die. But will they even want it? Will they leave it in the little flannel bags for their children to keep for their…yeah. Unused gifts.
Then you think about those other less tangible gifts you’ve been given. The creativity, the good photographer’s eye, the ability to balance color just right, the writer’s knack for saying what you mean, and your fingers that are able to work a needle to lay tiny stitches in just the right way? What about the loving heart you offer so readily to those who need a piece of it, except sometimes lately you find yourself holding it back? And in a moment of clarity, you wonder, what are you saving all that for? Who will use it when you’re gone? In that moment you decide it’s time for some changes. You decide you will burn those candles, a little every day as a reminder to use your gifts, every day, in every way possible.