Gifts that Last by Philomène Luyindula

Gifts that Last by Philomène Luyindula

At Sunday school in 2008, we explored the parable of the talents, where Jesus speaks of three people who are given different talents. He describes what they do with them and ends with the consequences of their choice.
 
In class we explored the value of qualities. The littlest children were able to say: I am at good smiling, I am good at drawing, I am good at running ... and I helped them make bigger sentences: I am good at smiling and I can make other people smile. I am good at drawing so I can make beautiful cards for others. The next group searched for different pieces of a puzzle (each piece representing a talent). When they were brought together they formed a drawing of the world. Charissa emphasised that the world works best when all our talents are put together.
 
At times we are oblivious to others, other times we compliment people and even remember to make the ‘bigger sentence’. It is a talent to recognise another’’s talent and it is a greater one to speak it in a way that makes that person recognise the value of the particular gift. Somehow, we all need to know we have a place in the world.
 
I would like to share a beautiful experience from my relationship with an 11-year-old girl I am ‘kind of mothering’ (context too complicated to explain here). Not long after the story of the talents I took some time to explain to her what I saw in her. She goes quiet often; when people ask her questions, when something interesting or something difficult is being explained ... and she went quiet this time, so I gave her a 20-minute monologue of all the things I find special in her and why I notice them. A few days later when we spoke on the phone, before saying goodbye she said ‘I love you’. It was the first time she said it. I could be wrong but I decided to assume that something came unstuck, something from that conversation allowed her to give me a bit more space in her life and in her heart. Maybe she finally understood that I see her and by speaking of her talents she understood that I truly love her.
 
If by recognising someone’s talent and encouraging him or her we help that person make sense of things and possibly bring some healing in their life, we should to do more of that, which brings me to Christmas. Do we gather with family and friends and tell them special things about themselves? Do we give presents that are so specific to the person that they don’t even need the person’s name on them? Do we think of things that are fun but also have a purpose?

Going back to Jesus’ parable of talents, and putting aside the issue of money in the story, we can still think of a talent as something big, something of value, something for now and for the future, something that we have a choice about as well as something that is beyond what we deserve. And then it’s not just up to the person with the talent to decide to save or hide the talent or to find a way to make it grow. It is not just up to the child to find his/her way through the teenage years and adulthood. It is the community around the child which constantly recognises and helps invest in the child’s talents.
 
Charissa organised a talent show on the last day of the series. I loved being an observer because there was much dancing, singing, shyness and laughter. I was particularly impressed by three siblings who seemed to have been prepared for the show. Not that they got time to practise the week before ... they were prepared because it was clear that at home they get to show off their talent. They get told that what they do is good and they build the confidence to perform. How I wish more families were like that! Talents seen, talents nurtured.

This Christmas spend on something which is about recognition and encouragement. Spend on something which is big for the child, something to enjoy now but that will impact on his/her future too.