At the beginning of the winter holiday season, I am reminded of a round written by Joseph and Nathan Segal in Singing the Living Tradition:
From you I receive, to you I give, together we share and from this we live.
What I love about this song is that it so simply states: everyone has something to offer and everyone has needs. These offerings can take many forms like a hug, a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, the advice you needed to hear in that moment, a hand ready to help. We are endowed with these gifts as human beings and it is our responsibility to share them.
In a Unitarian Universalist congregation I used to attend, we would sing “From You I Receive” in pairs facing each other. Each person would hold their hands out in front of them, making a bowl shape, creating movement out of the song to show gratitude for one another. It is a beautiful experience to sing this song looking into the eyes of another human being, to show them deep gratitude for the mutual exchange of relationship.
Around the winter holidays, there is such a huge focus on gift-giving. In our workplaces, homes, and schools, we are encouraged to bring presents to the folks in our lives, the people we are in relationship with. This time of year brings stress to our lives as we become busy with holiday parties, school events, and shopping. Finding that perfect present can be a lot of pressure. The myriad obligations of these holidays can become overwhelming.
In the lines of this song, we are reminded of the sacred exchange made in the human encounter. It is not a requirement to bring material possessions, only your presence and an open heart. It is worth reflecting on the sacredness of each encounter whether it’s at the grocery store, at work, at school, or in your home. Where are you giving? Where did you receive something that fed your soul?
Let us remember this song in the hustle and bustle of the winter holiday season. As we gather with family and friends, we acknowledge and rejoice that, “…together we share and from this we live.” In coming together, we are able to share in the gifts of the spirit each one of us has to offer. These relationships are life-giving, they are what sustains us through difficult times, what we have to offer a fellow human being when times are bad. May we be generous with the Spirit this holiday season, and may the Spirit sustain us through the winter.