10/03/2013 12:32 EDT | Updated 12/03/2013 05:12 EST

Be the Gift: Why Giving Yourself is the Best Gift of All

We pile on the wagon, a row on either side -- with a few stragglers stuck in the middle. Hay scratches at our ankles while wide,wooden slats hold us in all around. The youngest ones scramble to the front. Husband and I find our place along the side. Together. The sun beats down, blue sky over head.

Today is a gift.

As soon as she comes on, I notice her. She is wearing a t-shirt and running shorts: she has a hair-band around her arm, even though her wavy, brown hair is too short for the elastic. She appears noticeably different, but it is hard to say exactly how. Or why. It might be a certain vacant look I see in her eyes. It might be something entirely else. Who am I to say? But of course I do say. Of course we all do at times -- we notice people different than ourselves. We make judgement calls like this one I am making now. Innocent or otherwise.

Her helper settles down beside her, sticking close. And then she too settles in for the ride, but not too comfortably. She leans forward and catches his eye. Husband's eye. And then she starts to talk. And she talks and talks and talks. She leans over and grabs his arm, describing to him the details of her home in minute specification. He lets her touch his arm. And he holds her eye contact. She moves from room to room, in her mind's eye, telling him everything. No stone left unturned.

"I don't think he wants to hear all about your house," her helper-friend says, smiling nervously.

"I don't mind," he offers patiently.

And so she continues.

I watch him from the corner of my eye. And I see it: I see his gifts. The gift of patience. The gift of time. The gift of compassion. All gifts of considerable sacrifice. For one could choose to turn away. Could choose to reject. Could choose to spurn the receiver of such priceless gifts.

I can't help but wonder: What if today, we chose to be the gift? What if WE became THE GIFT?

Reading Ann Voskamp's recent blog about 'being the gift' as a way of celebrating her fortieth birthday has given me food for thought. Being the gift is such a simple, novel idea. Something doable. And it doesn't require a committee to be formed so as to make it happen. Or a document to be drawn up to make it work. It's more simple than complicated. Because being the gift is an idea that doesn't need hefty overhead costs and superfluous planning to make it work. It just requires some effort to do it. Being the gift requires some thought and sometimes, some muscle power. It is beautiful in its simplicity- it doesn't have to be elaborate.

Because simple is so very profound.

What if we were to do this, today and everyday thereafter?

It might change everything.

Being the gift could change our lives. It could get our eyes off our own problems for a moment and gently lift our perspective to see the Other sitting right across from us. To see others beside and in front of us. To notice people all around us in need of our gifts. Gifts of time. Of money. Of thought. Of attention. Of prayer. Of encouragement. Of a listening ear. Of help in both big and small ways. Being the gift to others can meet these needs and then some. It can even make the life of the giver better.

And being the Gift can begin a chain reaction that might even change the world.

What an astounding possibility that is.