Today is my favorite Gospel reading of the year:
…when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you… when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing… Matthew 6:2-3
But what is “give alms” exactly? I thought about looking up a correct definition, but then thought I would share my personal reflection instead (if you prefer a biblical interpretation, my apologies).
To me it means to give with a pure heart. Let me explain my thinking…
There is the more literal explanation of not “tooting your own horn” when you do something generous, such as a donation of time or money; or not talking about your accomplishments (some might call this bragging to your left hand what your right hand is doing).
But upon reflection, I realize that I do talk about what I do…I DO share my thoughts on spending time reaching out to others, giving to others and what it’s like to connect with someone as I give my time to them either one-on-one or at a talk. But I don’t do it to toot my own horn.
This is my understanding of the Gospel. I share my story and my accomplishments - my alms - not for myself, but for others. I share it with a pure heart.
For the past four years, I have taken my boys skiing over Presidents’ Day Weekend. We don’t go far (to Pennsylvania) and we don’t go for long (two days is plenty), but it’s a blast. The first year we went, my husband was traveling so he did not come; and we have been making our mother-sons trip (sans dad) ever since. However, we’re never alone the entire time - we always have friends join us.
This year in particular, was the most planned the weekend has been: two families, four boys, two moms, two rooms, and two days of skiing. The kids were psyched, and so was I.
There is a lot to share about the trip, but I will get the obvious out of the way: YES, I can ski. I often have people ask me if I am limited in my activity - and for the most part, I am not. Not only can I ski (although, perhaps not the straight-downhill-until-I-wipe-out skiing that I did as a teenager), but this trip I had to privilege of helping to teach a child how to ski. From the terrified grip of his little arms as we skied the first runs together, to the independent skier with arms out-stretched in balance; it was pure joy to watch the transformation.
That is the teacher in me. That is the gift we all have, should we choose to use it: of reaching out to others, of helping others grow, and of taking risks. We could all live within our comfort zones (and many of us do), but the times I have grown the most and therefore gained the most, were when I was pushed outside my comfort zone. I am out there a bit now, and while it’s uncomfortable, I know it will be worth it in the long run.
Until then, I will think of my little friend, the new skier, and the pride on his face when he mastered the run on his own. Sometimes we need help; sometimes we have to do things on our own. Both are important.
What does the above say to you?
I was at Notre Dame on Sunday (day trip - long day, but so worth it) and had the opportunity to listen to Dr. Sharon Petro speak. Dr. Petro was the first head coach of the women’s basketball team at Notre Dame. She was also the first female athletics administrator at Notre Dame. She was a trailblazer. And she is a breast cancer survivor.
Dr. Petro was the keynote speaker at the Pink Zone luncheon, the newly named Play4Kay event, in support of breast cancer initiatives. The back of her business card reads: OPPORTUNITYISNOWHERE.
Did you read: OPPORTUNITY IS NOWHERE - or OPPORTUNITY IS NOW HERE ???
I love this. It’s all about perspective. It’s all about how we choose to see the world and our lives. It’s all about being open to see the goodness in the bad, and the opportunity in our challenges.
You have the power to live a positive life.
Opportunity is now here. Take advantage of it!
Although it is Super Bowl Sunday, there is nothing super about it. Next to swimming, I love football, but for the first time in as long as I can remember, I don’t care about the game. I don’t know who is playing, but it is a blowout. And it’s just a game. To millions of fans it is everything on this day; but to me, today, it means nothing.
The above passage is from my book, as well as part of the section on the “Story” page of this website. I always think about that particular Superbowl when Superbowl Sunday comes around.
I grew up a Dallas Cowboys fan. The Cardinals didn’t arrive in Arizona until 1987, so I did not have a local pro team for which to cheer, and the Cowboys filled the void.
Once I went to college, pro football didn’t seem as exciting - especially after that first winter of 1992, when I learned so much more about life, what’s important in life, and how unimportant it was to win a football game. I loved football, but the Superbowl was never the same after my freshman year.
Until this year. We are two seasons into being Ravens’ season ticket holders. I have a son who loves football - gasp! - more than I do. He played Fantasy Football for the first time this year, and was obsessed. We dress in purple and black on Sundays. We plan our post-church activities around when the Ravens are on TV. I still have the perspective of it being “just a game,” but I also see the game through the eyes of my 10-year-old, who was in tears when the Ravens lost to the Patriots two weeks ago.
Pro Football has returned to our family. And today the Superbowl means more than it has in 20 years (although perhaps not as much as it would have if the Ravens were playing). Today we’ll be watching with friends, and celebrating more than a game; today we’ll celebrate what matters most in life: being with family and friends to enjoy things super and small.