The Gift of a Lifetime

Florence (Floey) Nightingale
Florence (Floey) Nightingale

Floey was sitting in the living room, in front of her house (crate), looking up at the painting on the wall.

Floey sitting - profile
Floey admiring her portrait

“Mom, can you believe it? Kitty painted a portrait of me! She’s such a wonderful neighbor. I just love to go see her. She often gives me MilkBones, but I can’t believe she loves me enough to spend weeks painting my portrait.”

“You’re right, Floey. We have some pretty special neighbors.”

“Kitty is so talented. I know you gave her a couple photos of me to help her get started, but she made me look so regal. I feel like I’m the queen of the Stone Meadows Condominium Community. I guess I’m really special.”

“You are special, Floey. You have the gift of being friendly and loving to almost everyone you meet. You are the four-legged queen of the neighborhood.”

“Yeah. Except kids. I don’t always like kids. I never know what they’re going to do – pet me or poke me, pull my tail or fall on top of me… I’d rather stay away from kids. Maybe that means I’m really not all that friendly. Maybe I don’t deserve to be called ‘Queen of the Neighborhood’ after all.”

“We all have different talents, Floey. Your talent is bringing joy and love to adults, especially senior adults, like Kitty, and like all the people who live with us for assisted living. That makes you queen of the senior neighborhood. That fits the regal look Kitty painted of you.”

“I guess you’re right, Mom.”

Horses by Kitty“Kitty is very talented at painting pictures. Remember the painting of two horses in the pasture that  hangs above my desk? Kitty painted that, too. She gave it to me as a gift one day when I saw it hanging in her house and I told her how much I liked it. But you know what, Floey, Kitty says she’s not a very good painter, that she’s just an amateur.”

“Really? She’s a great painter. The portrait she painted of me shows me as a special dog. She painted me to look like the dog I want to be – regal and refined, with my front paws positioned only as a truly refined lady dog places them. That’s how I always try to sit, you know.”

“Sometimes it’s hard for us to recognize our own talents, Floey. God has given at least one talent to every one of us. Eugene Peterson paraphrased what the Bible says about God’s gifts to us this way:

Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful: wise counsel, clear understanding, simple trust, healing the sick, miraculous acts, proclamation, distinguishing between spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues. All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when.  [I Corinthians 12:7-11 THE MESSAGE]

“I think it makes sense to add more examples to this list. To some people, God gives talents like painting pictures and being friendly.”

Kitty and Floey
Kitty and Floey – the best of friends

“I see what you mean, Mom. God has given Kitty the talent of painting, among other gifts, and God has given me the gift of being a good friend to lots of people in the neighborhood. How about you, Mom? Do you have any talents? Did God give you any gifts?”

“I think God gave me the gift of being able to play the organ and piano just well enough to help a congregation sing praises to God. I’m not talented enough musically to play on a concert stage, but that’s good, because if I had that much musical talent I’d have to dress up in fancy clothes and travel around to lots of big cities to perform. I wouldn’t like that. God gave me the talents that would be just right for me.”

“Hmm.” Floey looked at me thoughtfully. “I guess that makes sense. I can’t picture you in a fancy gown and high heels walking out on a stage to play a Beethoven sonata on a great big concert grand piano. But I can see you sitting on an organ bench, dressed in slacks and a sweater and wearing flat organ shoes, playing some hymns while the people sing along to worship God.”

“Isn’t it wonderful, Floey, that God has given us all such different gifts?  We’re all special, and God gave each of us just the right gifts for us to live together as a community, sharing our gifts with each other.”

“You’re right, Mom. I’m especially thankful today that God gave Kitty the gift of painting, and that she used that gift to paint a portrait of me. And I can use my gift of friendliness to let Kitty know how important she is to me and to let her know that I love her. I think that’s kind of what the Bible is saying, right? God wants us to use our gifts for the benefit of everyone. That’s why God gave us all different gifts – gifts to share with each other.”

“Right, Floey. God gave you the gift of understanding as well as the gift of friendliness.”

“I guess it’s OK that God gave the gift of liking to play with kids to other dogs instead of to me. I’m still queen of the senior neighborhood, and my portrait proves it!”

Kitty and Floey standing 1

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