Beliefnet
Beginner's Heart

the author's

the author’s

I’m hoping you can see all the cardinals in the tree off the deck. Since today is the day my entire extended family is getting together to celebrate Familial Festivus (Christmas/ Hannukah/ Solstice), it feels very much like a white Christmas to us!

The English have a legend that if you feed the birds on Christmas day, you will be wealthy in the year to come. I did both Christmas day, and yesterday. And if nothing else? We’re wealthy in birds. Wrens, titmice, chickadees, both downy & hairy woodpeckers, two kinds of finches, and sparrows, juncoes, et al. A panoply of birds!

When I think of what grows my beginner’s hearts, nature is at the very top. Certainly watching my beloved grandson open his gifts today was wonderful. But that kind of giving is rare: birthday, going to visit, Christmas. The birds? I can give to them every time I feed them. And I promise: they know. Seriously — they move into the trees around the deck, and wait until I’m finished (well, except for the very impatient blue jay, who screeches raucously the entire time!).

The longer I study beginner’s heart, the more I’m certain it has to do w/ giving. Because giving is the outward expression of compassion, of love. Giving takes many shapes & forms: listening to the waitress tell me what she’s bought for her little boys, advising my niece where to send her play, writing a recommendation for a colleague. It can be feeding the birds, too — making sure that during this completely unexpected 2 inches of snow, they have food & water.

Today, as you relax in the afterglow of Christmas and the holidays, what can you give back? A hug? A pat on the arm? An attentive ear, or a well-timed (and well-earned) compliment? Maybe it’s $20 to the USPS guy who ALWAYS brings the packages up to the door. Whatever it is, know that every gift we send out is at least a stretching towards growth of our beginners’ hearts. Not to mention all the happiness you create!

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