by W. Thomas Edwards
I got a free banana once.
Some pointed thing had stuck it in my cart,
And when the lady saw its skin
“No need to pay,” she said, and plopped it in
Amongst potatoes, oats and milk.
I took it home, and cut the end off, there,
Just where the skin was pierced.
I sliced the skin and peeled it back to show
The tender fruit within.
And then I thought how like God’s gifts to us
This gift banana was.
The gift of Faith that comes wrapped up
In different colored skins, and shows us how
The meanest broken things can point the way to God.
The gift of sight that Jesus gave
The man who had not ever seen.
A gift like Faith, not asked for - freely giv’n
The gift of God in human flesh
Wrapped up in trappings simple and serene,
The bread and cup Our Saviour gave us - life sustaining.
But then I thought God’s gifts so often have these little strings.
The “Talents” thing, you know,
Where using it should make it grow.
We cannot take the gifts and bury them unseen to be returned,
But use them must, and in the using to be drawn to union
With the One who gives the gift.
Most often we’re not told why gifts are given us.
Nor are we ever asked “Is this a gift you really want?”
I, for one, am not so sure I really want to be propelled
Through healing’s gift to rush about among the sick and weak,
The poor who have so little but their skins
and that not all too well.
Sometimes I wish I had been called to sit upon a pillar Stylite-like
And make pronouncements morn till night
For all to follow and make right the ills of all mankind.
But I must make the small and steady steps to teach
And in the teaching reach both those I heal
And those whose hands I teach to touch the hurting ones.
See, there’s the string. It’s hidden underneath.
The gift is grand, the string is hooked upon the heart.
And if I try to cast it off, it drags my heart away from me
And pulls me once again into the center place
Where gift, the Giver God and I may be as one.
Tom Edwards came to St Paul’s In 1990 first as a long term visitor and later as part of the community. He sings in St Paul’s Choir and is leader and founder of the Schola Cantorum Sancti Pauli, our Gregorian chant group. Tom is a devotee of the works of Thomas Merton and is an Associate of the Order of the Holy Cross. He is also a practicing physician.