1. The gift of tongues. Here I am talking about present-day languages, not about talking in tongues, a gift that would be problematic for me to accept, were it to be offered, because, as a linguist, whenever I hear someone talking in tongues, I begin to analyze the structure and lexemes of the utterances. One has to accept a gift without question, or as the American proverb goes, "don't look a gift horse in the mouth." Otherwise, it is lost as a gift. So, my gift is modern tongues, or as the common English word is today, languages. I am currently studying my 18th foreign language and acquiring it very rapidly, perhaps because I will need it soon for one of my upcoming tasks. (Never let it be said that only children can learn languages rapidly; that is an entrenched myth.) As I blogged last month (see post, Arrogance), being able to speak their language and interpret for them gave me the opportunity to relieve a good deal of stress for two Russians stranded at Dulles International Airport. In helping them, my own stress disappeared. And then, there is the Greek and Latin basis for the language that I will term, Medicalese, for lack of a better name. Being able to understand doctors and talk in "their language" often prompted them to share more information with me about my chidren's various conditions than otherwise they likely would have, including allowing me into some places that parents do not go (e.g., the echocardiogram back room).
2. The gift of music. On the last day of our retreat last month, Fr. Kevin, who had himself been playing most of the hymns we sang, needed someone to take over so that he could lead the adoration. I may not have been the only other piano player, but I was the only one who volunteered to play. It could have been that I was the only one with good skills at sight reading. I'm embarrassed to admit that this skill comes from years of trying, as a child, to trick my piano teacher into thinking I had actually practiced. Then, too, years of playing for various formal and informal situations have made me intrepid before a crowd. As a counterbalance to the child abuse Ma heaped on us children, she made sure that we could read books, sew (and crotchet, knit, tat, and embroider), play the piano, swim, and ice skate. (I'm not sure what advantage the latter was other than fun, except being able to swim exempted me from a college requirement and being able to ice skate got me an A in physical education in college -- where my teacher was the 1957 Olympic champion, whose name I have forgotten, but I could probably find it online if it mattered.)
3. The gift of words. I suppose there is not much to add to the obvious: no gift of words, no blogs. Nor would I have been able to write a dozen professional books, two of them considered seminal works in my professional field. Then, of course, there was that day when I was told, "I gave you the gift of words; use them for Me," that resulted in Blest Atheist and hopefully will result in two new books now in progress: Raising God's Rainbow Makers (which I am excerpting on Clan of Mahlou) and Angels of Abkhazeti (a first spiritual novel attempt, which I am excerpting on Mahlou Musings).
4. The gift of science. In high school, I had a decision to make: take a college major in physics or in linguistics. I chose linguistics because even though I held the highest grade in my physics class, had a solid score on the college-board physics exam, and had won top prize in physics in the school science fair, everyone from my teacher to my parents to my school counselor discouraged me from majoring in physics because "girls don't do that." I have never regretted majoring in linguistics, but one does always wonder. Seventeen year later, my younger sister, a carbon copy of me in many ways, graduated from Michigan State University with a 4.0 in nuclear physics. Times had changed! My ability to understand science became essential in a very different way: with three children and two grandchildren living with birth defects, being able to understand medicine and question doctors has made a considerable difference in the quality of the kids' lives, even to the point of saving Doah's life when my knowledge gave me the courage to steal him from the hospital.
Gifts have been coming to the fore in recent days, so it is certainly time for me to say thank you. What about you? For what is it time for you to say thank you?
More information about one of the Thankful Thursday memes can be found at the website of Grace Alone. This meme host is shared with other blogs so you will need to check to see which one is hosting any given month.
Link up with Greg's and Daryl's Thankful Thursday at Greg's General Store.