Monday, December 19, 2016

"I Have No Gift to Bring": Reflections on The Little Drummer Boy

Pssst.  I have a secret.  

I AM the little drummer boy. Well, not exactly... I mean,  I'm a girl and I don't play the drums, and while I am, ahem, somewhat vertically challenged, overall I don't think I'm all that little.

Details, details, details.

The fact remains that I AM the little drummer boy.  I have approached the King of Kings more times than I can count, 100% convinced that I have no gift to bring that is fit to give him. My weaknesses, my failings, my poverty and my littleness seem completely unfit to present to His Majesty. Worse than that, the gold, frankincense and myrrh that others around me have to offer possess a WOW factor that I can't even hope to imitate.

My guess is that there are a lot of us drummer boys out there. 

We drummer boys spend all our energies lamenting what we don't have and wishing for the gifts that others have.  In keeping our vision focused on our weaknesses and others strengths, we stand before Jesus, stuck in our own heads, convinced that we have nothing of value to offer him. In our blindness, we fail to see that the King himself has already given us the only gift he ever desires from us.

Fortunately, the tune itself provides the answer to our unworthiness. In the carol, it is our Lady who gives the "nod" of encouragement to the Little Drummer Boy to give the only gift that he could - his own self and the song of his heart. He was the one and only person who could uniquely offer the gift of his song.  No one else could do that for him, and no other gift, no matter how grand or beautiful, could ever match his simple song, precisely because it was his and his alone to give.

Mary's maternal nod is available for all of us - through her intercession and her help, she gently nudges us towards her Son.

The teachings of the Saints also provide the little drummer boy inside us with some wise counsel.

St. Francis de Sales, in a letter of spiritual direction, warns his directee, a lay woman, about wishing for the spiritual gifts that others have saying:
Don’t sow your desires in someone else’s garden; just cultivate your own as best as you can; don’t long to be other than what you are, but desire to be thoroughly what you are.
St. Catherine of Siena in her characteristic bluntness says "Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire."

St. John Paul II in a powerful, packed passage writes:
The man who wishes to understand himself thoroughly - and not just in accordance with immediate, partial and often superficial, and even illusory standards and measures of being, he must with his unrest, uncertainty and even his weakness and sinfulness, with his life and death, draw near to Christ, He must, so to speak, enter into him with all his own self, he must "appropriate" and assimilate the whole of the reality of the Incarnation and Redemption in order to find himself.
Like the Little Drummer Boy, we too must approach the Lord and offer him a gift of our whole selves, with all our weaknesses and imperfections.  It is in this unique, irreplaceable, total gift of our life, presented to Jesus without reservation that we will experience the "smile" the Newborn King offers.

Josh Groban's version of The Little Drummer Boy is my favorite:

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  1. Great article, love your sharing so much, thank you!


    1. To God be the glory! Best wishes for a blessed Christmas season!