The Gift

In September 2009 I went to visit my grandfather in his village. I stayed there ten days with my mother. One of those days a neighbor took us in pilgrimage to a nearby monastery, which I had been visiting a long time ago in my youth.
I stopped at the monastery gate where there was a kiosk selling Orthodox icons and other church items. I bought two icons. One was small, a Madonna image painted in the traditional Orthodox style, which I gave as a gift to one of my neighbors in Bucharest, a lady who was very religious, praying every day, going to the church and offering small gifts to others. She is the one who encouraged me in 2006 to begin writing poetry. She is the one who stood by me when I was feeling low and help me with a good massage. She is the one who gave me small paper icons or religious stories to read. In the beginning I wanted to keep that icon for myself but I gave it away to her in order to express my gratitude.
The other icon I bought in the monastery was another painted Madonna (also a copy) which impressed me very much. It was bigger and in the beginning I planned to keep it for myself. Then I changed my mind and I gave it to my grandfather who was very also very impressed by the Virgin Mary’s tears in the painting and hung the icon in his bedroom, where other icons are on the walls since I was a child. I was so happy to see my gift among others there, I gave it away and giving made me always happier.
Two years ago I was in great financial stress. I went to a church in the center of my town, where I go from time to time, and I bought a small Psalm book, which I thoroughly read afterwards. And I looked around wishing I could have that icon for myself. Because the same icon I bought in the monastery, the crying Madonna,  was for sale in that church in three dimensions. And I could not afford to buy one. I stood hesitating, thinking that maybe I can buy the small one, but it would have been too small to suggest from a distance the details in the painting. And in fact I couldn’t afford to buy even that one. Then a young and beautiful girl who happened to be around understood my indecision and my problem and offered it to me ! The medium dimension. Such a gift cannot be refused. I was truly impressed and happy and gave thanks to her and to God for that gift. I hung it on my living room wall. I was feeling as if I were a little girl again, remembering the happy day when a neighbor who didn’t know me at all gave me beautiful roses from her garden because she saw me staring and admiring her flowers from the street. I couldn’t believe my eyes, I didn’t expect that to happen. Sometimes dreams come true unexpectedly.
Last year my neighbor (the lady I was talking about) and my grandfather got ill, both of them. She had lung cancer because she worked in a toxic environment in her youth (professional disease). My grandfather was 86, old and also suffering because of his lungs and heart.
A few days before Easter I opened the Bible and I read a few verses because I was feeling very lonely and I had some troubles (abdominal pain and other transitory problems),  I couldn’t sleep. The next morning I was announced that my grandfather found his eternal peace, he passed away just one day before his 87th birthday, in the Holy Wednesday. I was very sad. I went to his funeral and among other things I found that the icon was still there.
Two months after that event I was announced that my neighbor also passed away after a long suffering. I was sad to hear that.
Now I am thinking from time to time about them, while looking at my icon on the wall. I still think that giving something wholeheartedly to others is one of the biggest gifts that God left for humans on Earth. Me and that lady and that girl and the woman with roses, we were all so happy to make small gifts to others. And everyone’s fate is in God’s hands, we are all indebted to Him with one death, ours.

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