This afternoon a gaggle of women sat down to discuss our personal responses to a study we are working on. Although the time in which the words were written dates back over 2000 years, it has a relevance today in ordinary lives. The language is dated, the context not relevant to us in this western, and predominantly material, world, but how we feel as humans changes not that much.
One of the main topics, that seemed to inspire us all to make comment, was on our own gift, or gifts. A gift, by definition, is not something we have earned, nor learned, but, instead, something beyond ourself, something of a surprise, perhaps.
What is my gift? We asked. I am just an ordinary island woman, leading a life much like any other life. I cook and clean, I sew or don’t sew. I organise to varying degrees, my own life, and those of another or others. I do nothing astonishing. I am not a prima ballerina, a rock star, a princess or a surgeon. I am just me.
Or am I?
What we learned, over cups of tea around a table in a warmly lit room, is that not one of us is ‘ordinary’. For a start, we each have certain problems and challenges to wake us each morning. These are specific to us. As we pull on our sensible warm underwear, we each consider these challenges and make our decisions in context. One of us is good at being cheerful. She says her mouth goes up at the edges naturally. Another is good at writing letters, at remembering those who often forget even themselves, and she loves to take out paper and a pen and begin.
Another can bake seriously risen cakes and buns and does it for pleasure. Another paints and is lost for hours in the process.
I write and the same goes for me.
What we all realised is that we do what we do because it comes easily, because time loses its grip on us, because we forget context in the content.
Now see-saw that word.
We are content in our work.
And that is the whole point of a gift. It is not something we struggle to achieve, nor do we have to study it to get good. We just do it, effortlessly. The skill is to recognise it and then, to take it out into the world for the benefit of others who don’t have the gift we have. Not for our own validation, although we all look for that, but for the good of humankind.
Or the village. Or maybe, just for next door.