Thursday, April 20, 2017

Can You Truly Give a Gift?

The Ricketts family, owners of the Chicago Cubs franchise, gave 1,908 World Series rings to everyone associated with helping the Cubs win the 2016 World Series. In order to discourage selling their World Series rings, Cub ownership asked non-players to sign an agreement giving the team the right to buy back the ring for $1.

Personally, if I had been a part of the 2016 World Series Cubs organization and received a commemorative ring, I'd find a nice glass case to put it in and place it on the fireplace mantel! I'd cherish the emotion and the passion of a great, long-awaited winning season. But then, not everyone is like me! (I can hear it now,"Thank God!")

Do you remember O. Henry's short Christmas story, The Gift of the Magi? It is a sentimental story with a moral lesson about gift-giving. It is a story about a young married couple and the gifts they give each other that neither can use. The story reveals how priceless love is. It is also a story about the paradox and lesson in ownership: do you own something or does something own you? If you truly give someone something, you let go of it. You don't own it. The gift becomes theirs to do with as they wish. If you give a gift with expectations, then the gift, the object owns you.

A gift given with an expectation, with control, is not a gift. If you cannot give a gift and let go, then do not give it. I know I have given gifts to people and discovered the gift was re-gifted, returned to the store for credit or exchange or was even thrown out. Maybe I was disappointed, but it was the receiver's choice of how they chose to use or not use my gift, not mine.

It does not matter how much the gift cost. (The Cub World Series ring is estimated to be worth at least $30,000.) A gift is a gift is a gift with no strings attached, or it is not a gift.

I know people who have received large sums of money as a gift for college or investment, who did not use it the way the giver intended. People fail all the time to meet our expectations. Let it go or don't give it in the first place.

Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer equated the gift of the ring to winning a Heisman and Oscar. "If you get a Heisman Trophy, they put that stipulation on it," he said. "If you win an Oscar, they put that stipulation on it." 

I disagree with Mr. Hoyer. The Heisman and Oscar are on par with the World Series trophy the Cubs now own. The World Series trophy is one of a kind, not one of 1,908. The Cub World Series ring was a gift, a token, a remembrance of a victory season from the Ricketts family. The ring was not a part of the trophy from MLB. 

Give the people a ring if you choose. Hope that they show gratitude in return by simply saying, thank you! That is their gift back to you!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Holy Week Reveals My Unholiness, My Humanness.

You don’t have to be Christian to acknowledge the challenges of Holy Week are at the core of whether it’s all about me or is about the community of which I am a part.

I realize I could have been a part of that crowd that cheered Christ riding into Jerusalem on that donkey. After all, I am attracted to successful underdogs. 

I realize I could be Judas. I, too, might judge someone as just too good for his or her own good and needs to be taken down. That's why we institute laws, rules and policy. 

I realize I could be like Christ’s disciples at Gethsemane and fail to support someone in need, falling asleep when someone needs me to be there for them.

I realize I could be like Peter and deny being associated with someone who was threatening the system, offering a better way of living together, creating community. I like my comfort zones.

I realize I could be gaslighted and follow the crowd yelling, “Crucify Him!”

I realize I could be like the Roman soldiers, wanting a piece of His clothing, nurturing my greed.

Good Friday is where I face my contribution to evil. It exposes the hatred I am capable of. It exposes my self-interest, my failure to love my neighbor, especially the neighbor who is different from me in so many ways. How God is willing to put up with me for my failures and short comings is beyond me. Yet, love gets the last word. Love wins. The message of Holy week is a call to act upon my faith, to walk-my-faith.