Last night we had our New Wineskins group meeting: that 's our little worship group that gets together once a month to explore a theme by sharing songs, readings from the Bible and elsewhere, personal experiences -- whatever we like. Our theme last night was "gift," and we had a great evening. As usual, there was a wide variety of offerings: readings from Matthew and James, passages from the Narnia chronicles and Lord of the Rings, music from Josh Garrels and the Canadian Tenors, and more. We had such a rich evening and the topic seemed to yield so many different angles, we've decided to revisit the same theme in February when we meet again.
I read a passage from The Fellowship of the Ring in which all of the members of the Fellowship are given gifts by Queen Galadriel before they leave Lothlorien to continue their difficult journey. At last she comes to Frodo, who has volunteered to take the Ring to Mount Doom in spite of his fear of what lies ahead:
"And you, Ring-bearer," she said, turning to Frodo. "I come to you last who are not last in my thoughts. For you I have prepared this." She held up a small crystal phial: it glittered as she moved it, and rays of white light sprang from her hand. "In this phial," she said, "is caught the light of Earendil's star, set amid the waters of my fountain. it will shine still brighter when night is about you. May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out."
This passage made me think of when I went to the Maritime Writers' Workshop in July of 2010. The second of the three sessions I attended was "Life Writing," and we spent a fascinating day doing various exercises, alone and with others, to explore how we might write about and from our own lives. Toward the end of the day the leader, Eve, led us on a guided imagery journey. These kinds of exercises can sometimes be hokey or even manipulative, but it wasn't that way this time. She just put on some music and invited us to close our eyes and imagine being taken by magic carpet to a cave on a mountain. There we would be met by a guide (my imagination obviously has its limits because my guide looked just like Gandalf!) who would present us with a gift.
In my imaginary journey, the gift I was given was a voice. It was in the form of a white dove; when I opened my mouth to sing it flew out, and when I wrote it flew out of my pen. This was and is very meaningful to me for a couple of reasons. One is that I've always known that God gave me my singing voice both to please Him and to bring joy to myself and others. The other is that it reinforced for me the importance of my writing (whether it be "just" blog entries, or my stories and poetry, or even my comments on students' essays and replies to their emails) as a way of glorifying God.
As I thought more about this experience and about the Tolkien passage above, I also concluded that God had given me the gift of faith. To me it's like the light in Galadriel's vial -- strong and sure even in the darkest moments -- and my task, as with all gifts I've been given, is to accept it, enjoy it, and use it.