Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Season For Strange Gifts

by Samantha Wilde

Many Christmases, as a child, I received, as many others did, gifts I did not particularly want. I invariably had one relative who would gift me a child's worst nightmare, something utilitarian and boring, like a lamp. (Some would say, "like a book," but in my family there really is no greater gift.) As a child, I found it bewildering. I clearly asked for what I wanted. I never gave vague requests. Just where in the words "Barbie Dream House," did she come up with "athletic socks?"

The same unusual scenario occurs in my adult spiritual life. Here I am, calling out for something very specific, "More time for myself, please!" or "Let this one be a bestseller!" or "Please inspire my husband to do all the dishes," and yet, I am getting completely different gifts from the universe, for example, terribly un-childlike presents, like patience and fortitude and forgiveness.

Many years ago, after the birth of my first child, I wrote an article called Strange Gifts which is one of the many pieces of writing I have collected into my new book by the same name. Strange Gifts, some writings on love, is a gathering of some of my words about love, faith, meaning, God, life, death, and hope written over the course of twelve years during the time I have been a minister.

But before you run screaming from the room with grim memories of your own childhood religion, let me assure you that my practice is entirely expansive, inclusive, encompassing, and based on my understanding of God as Love. I write outside of religion but inside of believing. I write remembering and standing in solidarity with people who don't or cannot believe, and in boldness with people who do.

Because this is the season of gifts, we all have asking hearts. What I learned, over time, was to look for the strange gifts, the unexpected gifts, the ways in which prayers are answered in unusual ways. In my Strange Gifts article, I quote Helen Keller who wrote: "When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door we do not see the one which has been opened for us." I stumble upon this truth all the time. Even in publishing Strange Gifts, I have received them. The first printing is almost completely sold out, and a little book of my heart, intended for only a small audience, has gone out to dozens of states, to friends and to strangers.

I'll tell you, a writer may write for herself, or she may think that she writes because she needs to, but the real gift is to have a reader.

At the end of my Strange Gifts article in my collection, I wrote: May our hearts be open to the open doors in our lives, to the gifts we are given that can change us and lead us more completely into communion with Goodness. May you find that the great Santa of Love know you better than you think, better than you know yourself. I won't wish for you to be blessed this season, but to realize the blessings that already abound. Let's join together in looking for them; fling wide the new door!

I hope you get many strange and wonderful gifts this holiday time.
And if you would like one of them to be a copy of Strange Gifts, which is (unlike a boring lamp) a perfect little gift, you can buy it on my website (and only on my website), you can even ask for it to be wrapped. Maybe it will open a new door for someone.

Find out about Sam on her Reverend Sam Wilde website, her author site, listen to her hip and inspiring messages on her weekly radio show, You Are Loved, and like her on Facebook because she really likes to be liked. 
Sam is the author of I'll Take What She Has and This Little Mommy Stayed Home. She is a graduate of Smith College, Yale Divinity School, the New Seminary and the Kripalu School of Yoga. She has been an ordained minister for more than a decade, serving various populations with her central message that God's love (by whatever name you call it) is for everyone. She is an at-home mother of three small children, a yoga teacher, and the daughter of novelist Nancy Thayer.


  1. Congratulations on STRANGE GIFTS, Sam! Your post is inspirational, and I suspect the same is true of the book! It sounds like it's already a rousing success--but if I got the gist of your philosophy and post, that's hardly the point. :)

  2. Thanks, Laura. It's a very small success, but I think I'm coming around to the beauty of small things.

  3. Love this, Sam! Such an inspirational post.

  4. Great post, Sam. I didn't know you were a fellow Smithie!

    1. I didn't know we had that in common either! How fun. Maybe I'll see you some day at a reunion...

  5. Ordering your book. So happy for you and definitely look for the strange gifts in my life! Have been so many and it's so nice to recognize them.

    1. Yes, that's true, Malena, they keep coming! I hope you like the book--think you will.