I get a lot of chain email and I hate it. Even the nice ones. Even the ones that bring a tear to my eye. Here’s a recent email I received (in yellow):
The story goes that some time ago a mother punished her five year old daughter for wasting a roll of expensive gold wrapping paper. Money was tight and she became even more upset when the child used the gold paper to decorate a box to put under the Christmas tree.
I mean, how expensive was this paper? $3.99? $5.99? $10? $20? Was it made out of solid, freakin' gold? Even at twenty dollars, is it worth screaming at your kid? If times were so hard, why did the mom have this fancy-schmancy paper? Why didn’t she use the funny papers or plain paper that she stenciled or had her daughter draw on or something?
Nevertheless, the little girl brought the gift box to her mother the next morning and then said, "This is for you, Momma." The mother was embarrassed by her earlier over reaction, but her anger flared again when she opened the box and found it was empty. She spoke to her daughter in a harsh manner. "Don't you know, young lady, when you give someone a present there's supposed to be something inside the package?"
Again, is this worth your anger “flaring”? And if the little girl didn’t know that presents should contain something, well who did she learn that from? To berate her on Christmas morning, for God’s sake. Ok, maybe she had a good reason to be cranky. Maybe she’s a single mom, and she’s stressed from working nights and trying to keep it together for Christmas and daddy hasn’t paid the child support in 3 weeks and she was up all night putting toys together and she hasn’t had coffee yet. Maybe she had just explained for the three hundredth time that she doesn’t know what time Daddy’s showing up and that even if he could afford a pony, ponies can’t live in apartments. Hey, I’ve been there.
She had tears in her eyes and said, "Oh, Momma, it's not empty! I blew kisses into it until it was full."
Ok, here’s the payoff, the reason you read these sappy things and then wipe your eyes when no one’s looking. A lesson for us all.
The mother was crushed. She fell on her knees and put her arms around her little girl, and she begged her Forgiveness for her thoughtless anger.
Oh, don’t worry. The lesson’s not over yet.
An accident took the life of the child only a short time later, and it is told that the mother kept that gold box by her bed for all the years of her life. Whenever she was discouraged or faced difficult problems she would open the box and take out an imaginary kiss and remember the love of the child who had put it there.
See, why can’t we just have the box full of kisses? No, instead we have to be beaten over the head with the message-Cherish What You Have. Don’t Take Your Loved Ones For Granted. And, of course, Kisses are Worth More Than Gold. Do you notice that someone dies in a LOT of these stories? Maybe she died because her bad mother didn’t deserve her anyway. Or she had to pay off some of her mother’s karmic debt, which, frankly she’s been racking up by the bucket loads. But most of all, she died to teach us a lesson.
I get it already.
In a very real sense, each of us, as human beings, have been given a Golden box filled with unconditional love and kisses from our children, family, friends and GOD. There is no more precious possession anyone could hold.
Well, I don’t know about you, but the love I get, as well as the love I give, is pretty damn conditional. Because that’s what you get from other, imperfect humans. Maybe God gives unconditional love, but you wouldn’t know it from a lot of religions out there.
You now have two choices: 1. Pass this on to your friends, or2. Delete it and act like it didn't touch your heart. As you can see, I took choice No. 1. Friends are like angels who lift us to our feet, when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly. If you receive this more than once in return just know that your friends have also thought of you!
If you’ve read this far, you probably think I’m a total scrooge and maybe a cynical bitch, to boot. Here’s why I really hate these things. It’s because it gives us a false sense of closeness. I call it the “Aw, shucks” factor. We read something like this and it satisfies our need for several things: wisdom, easy answers to complicated questions and a feeling of closeness to others. But it’s the spiritual equivalent of a Snickers Bar. They’re nice once in a while, but your spiritual nutrition shouldn’t depend on them. And that’s just what so many people I know do: they’re feeding their soul with Snickers Bars and nothing else. They get their moment of “Aw, shucks” and then go back to being the same shallow, disconnected people they were 30 seconds ago. So, my secret’s out-I hate these things. I think they are worse than meaningless, I think they’re harmful to our psyches.
I like to read inspirational stuff, I really do. But I want the five-course meal, not a candy bar. Chew on this:
When God wants an important thing done in the world or a wrong righted, He goes about it in a very singular way. He doesn’t release thunderbolts or stir up earthquakes, God simply has a tiny baby born, perhaps to a very humble home, perhaps of a very humble mother. And God puts the idea or purpose into the mother’s heart. And she puts it into the baby’s heart, and then…God waits.
The great events of the world are not battles and elections and earthquakes and thunderbolts. The great events are babies, for each child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged with humanity, but is still expecting goodwill to become incarnate in each human life.
At least the email isn’t extorting me to pass it on to 10 people in 10 seconds or risk certain death. For that, I’m thankful.