“Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”

Published 12:40 pm Wednesday, December 13, 2023

“Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” is a saying that my mother instilled in me from a very early age and it is one that I will never forget. It goes along with, “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.”

As a child I complained about getting a new pretty flannel nightgown every Christmas from my grandmother, when I really wanted a doll or a toy. Then, my grandmother died when I was only nine years old. The following Christmas there was no nightgown under the tree, and I missed that warm feel of the flannel nightgown and sitting on my Grandma’s lap while she read me a bedtime story. I had no idea of the gifts I’d been given until they were gone. None of us do.

What is the greatest gift that we’ve been given? Answer: the earth and everything in it. 

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Whoever, or whatever, God is is beyond our comprehension although we’ve been trying to define “God” and put him/it/her in a box, with a definition that we can comprehend, for centuries. How can a human being even comprehend an entity that is totally beyond our imaginations?

For me, I see God outside, away from all the ‘stuff’ that us humans have made. I also am pretty sure that Jesus never told his disciples to “worship” him; he said to “follow” him. And where was Jesus born? In a stable. How did he get around in the world? On foot, or on a borrowed donkey for special occasions. And how much did he like all those beautiful treasures in the Temple? He threw them on the floor.

Now is the time to honor the gifts that we have been given. We’ve been brought up to think of God as being a male, but we all know that God is beyond our comprehension and cannot be put into words, beyond understanding. I’ve decided that maybe God gave us Mother Nature, or maybe God is Mother Nature. Back when I was a child my mother taught me that nature worship was wrong; that was what she was taught, that nature worship was bad. But then, my mother was brought up in a time when drilling into the earth for oil and gas was a good thing, when modernization was making the world a better place. She was part of that ‘greatest generation’ that gave us new cars and TV and a booming stock market. She honestly believed that we were making the world a better place through technology, as did so many people of that generation. Little did we know how ‘advertising’ would actually change our world.

Now we know better. We know that we are slowly but surely destroying the world that we were given. It’s depressing! What can we do? I do not think that buying the perfect gift this Christmas will help, even though that’s what we are encouraged to do every time we turn on the TV or our computer, or drive to a store. How can we give back the wonderful gifts that we’ve been given – the earth and everything in it? For most of us, it will take a lifetime to figure that one out, if we can.

Love your neighbor as yourself, and that neighbor may be a person, or a stray cat, or a worm, or a possum. Or it may be a stream, or a tree, or the dirt of the garden that feeds us. God is love, and that’s all that counts. Honor Jesus’ birth by hugging the homeless man, or planting a tree, or starting a compost system, or hanging your laundry on the clothesline so you do not have to turn on the dryer, or opening your windows in the summertime so you can feel the breeze do not have to use the air conditioner all the time. Do whatever you can to honor the gifts that we have been given, the gift of life.