Parson to Person January 2017

“When the Gift Is in the Eye of the Beholder”

When I was in college I had a friend who made “poster” art – that is, pictures with inspirational sayings inked over a multi-colored background that he designed with strips of colored tissue paper (layered on the canvas with water and glue). After finishing the background for one picture, he decided he didn’t like the design and was about to throw it away when I asked if I could have it. He said, “Sure.”

The question now was what saying would I write on it? I decided to write something trite that would make my friends laugh. Here’s what I inked in:
I came upon a rock.
And, wondering why no one ever talks to rocks,
I picked it up and made it my friend.

I thought everyone would recognize this saying as the trite message I meant it to be. But one fellow student saw it and asked if he could buy it from me as a gift for his sister. I didn’t have the heart to tell him the picture was meant to be corny. And I certainly didn’t want to take any money for it. So I just gave it to him and said I hoped his sister liked it.

What this incident taught me was that, to some extent, every gift – like beauty itself – is in the eye of the beholder. What I thought was trite… someone else had found moving; what I meant to be corny, someone else had seen as beautiful and deep.

At this season of giving and receiving – and preparing for the year to come – I encourage us all to find gifts where we never expected to see them – and perhaps even beauty in people we least expect to find it in.

Happy New Year, everyone–with, of course, a little …
peace and unrest,
Tony Larsen

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