What lovely gifts, to give and to be a grateful receiver of gifts.
I met a young Brazilian woman and her child at a market performance this summer. She was drawn to me because I was singing the music of her homeland, and she thought I was Brazilian. I am not. My father is a Portuguese descendant of the Azore Islands. I listened to Brazilian music all my life, and heard my elders speaking the language as a young child. As a teen, I got my first Brazilian record – Simone, Amar, and listened to it religiously. It was then and there that I was determined that I would learn to sing in Portuguese, and was on track to become a Brazilian singer.
So, here she was before me, this beautiful, gentle, smiling Indo-Brazilian woman and her 5 year soft spoken son Joe. She asked where I would be singing next, and I told her. She came to hear me sing with her husband and his family. I have been following her pregnancy on Facebook, and offered to help out when the baby was born. She replied that her husband was helping out at home, but invited me to meet the baby one evening. I wanted to bring a special gift for the baby and for Joe, understanding how hard it is for older siblings to be uprooted from being the center of attention when another sibling is born. I found the perfect red car for Joe, and threw in the story/song CD The Fairy’s Flowers that I had produced for the Waldorf and Neo-humanist Education communities years ago. I also wanted to bring something sweet for the mother and family, as is tradition. I walked around the bakery at the local store, and honed in on a cheese and berry strudel. I am familiar with the Brazilian pastry, pao de queijo – cheese bread, and thought this would be the perfect treat. When I arrived, I saw the most beautiful golden mother and child sitting on the couch. She immediately offered me to hold her new daughter, Joy. The strudel was perfect and everyone had two pieces. Joe adored his new car, and red was his favorite color. They played the story CD while I was there, and Joe listened attentively. Leili was overjoyed, and said that she would use the CD during his night time routine. We schmoozed for a few hours, and as I was about to leave, Leili asked me to come back often, “I don’t have any family here, and would love to see you again.” I promised to come back with a feijoada next time (a Brazilian black bean meal). The sweetness and connection I felt with this family is indescribable, I felt as if they were my family too. My takeaway? Follow through on your intuition, you never know where it’s going to lead you.
At shul the other night, an elder friend of ours gave us a surprise gift. He and his wife asked me to open it in front of them. It was a crystal set of Shabbat candlesticks. He knew that my friend and I had begun to observe Shabbat, and wanted us to have special candlesticks to do so. This touched me deeply, as I felt seen by this man.
I felt like this gift and gesture were from the Divine Himself. On a cosmic level, this elder sees the silver lining. He has lived on this earth for over 80 years, and he is silently guiding us to “follow our bliss”.
And so it is!