A Gift

By Chad Glang, Ph.D., Colorado.

Stained Glass Art by Chad Glang, Colorado.

Someone asked me recently when was it that I first awakened to the spiritual side of life.
I have a vivid memory from my time as a student in France. I was 19, and several of us were invited to be companions to kids at a nearby orphanage. In several visits, I connected with a boy of eight. In our final afternoon together he went to his bureau—container of all his worldly possessions. 

He brought out a rare, treasured postage stamp and handed it to me: Un cadeau pour toi, “A gift for you.” 

I was so touched. I pulled out my wallet and found a memento I prized. “Great! We’ll trade,” I said.

His was crestfallen, his eyes filled with tears. “No, not a trade… it’s a gift. I want to give it to you.” I stopped breathing. Oh… I had denied him the experience of giving. In my discomfort with the vulnerability of being the receiver, I’d reflexively moved to equalize the relationship. Unaware, acting out of my own feelings, I’d walked on his feelings… and his dignity. 

More than fifty years later, I am still brought to stillness by this memory. I denied the gift of the stamp; I could not deny the gift of the learning. There’s something more going on here… it’s not just about what my limited, if well intentioned, ego can comprehend.

I didn’t have words for that experience at the time, which was part of its power. Now, the Sanskrit greeting Namaste comes to mind: “The place in me of love and truth and light greets the place in you of love and truth and light.” 

At a given moment, we may be wearing particular hats, like server and served, but we are all in this together…and deep down we are all the same.

—Chad Glang, Ph.D., lives a retired life in Colorado. He works with stained glass, hikes, bikes and camps. He practiced counseling psychology for 40 years. 

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