So much has been written about the importance of being mindfully grateful. We’ve learned to “pay it forward”, to keep gratitude journals and to not take our blessings for granted. I know from the outset I will have nothing new or profound to add to the subject, but it has been running through my mind all day, and since this Lenten journal is a daily reflection on where I’ve sensed God for that particular day, “Gratitude” it is!
I guess it’s my husband’s fault. I have him to thank for steering my thoughts toward all things grateful by something he said this morning, quite off-hand-idly. I had just come downstairs for a quick breakfast before work, muttering something about how nice it would be to be independently wealthy and get to choose when to go to work. “I love my job”, I said, “It’s just that sometimes I’d like to have a choice about whether or not I actually go!” (Can I get an “amen?”) He nodded and told me about a similar feeling he experienced recently as he was going into the office, and how he was suddenly filled with genuine gratitude as he unlocked the front door for the thousandth time. He was employed doing something he truly loves, he had strength and health and options so many people will never enjoy. He felt grateful. And I stopped muttering! (Could it be that gratitude is contagious?)
It really was a great thought with which to start the day. I found myself circling back to it almost without effort. I washed my hands in the restroom and felt so thankful that every time I turn on that faucet, clean, warm water – as much as I need – flows freely. It made me think of my time in Haiti, where plumbing, even in “developed” areas was unpredictable at best, and the millions of people all around the world who don’t have access to abundant, clean water. I haven’t done a thing to “deserve” this resource, but I benefit from it multiple times a day.
It was a particularly hectic day in my little corner of the high school world – several people at my desk, all needing a quick word about a variety of situations; a student asking if someone had turned in her lost cell phone, a parent checking in for an appointment, a teacher needing a “loaner” key for the day, a co-worker following up on a student’s attendance issue, handing out work binders to substitute teachers – “Can you work an extra period today? You can? Great!” along with loads of “Good morning!”s and “Have a great day!”s……all between 7:30 and 7:45! And as soon as the first bell rang and I straightened the frenzy on my desk to get ready for round two, I felt so….. grateful. I have a job that suits me and in which I get to help lots of people with many different things throughout the day. I get to create spreadsheets and organize my work as I wish. I have the privilege of showing kindness to teenagers who are often struggling with issues so big it breaks my heart, and I work with people who have been beyond generous and patient as I attempt to find my footing after so many unexpected life-turns. I am thankful – truly thankful for my job.
I could go on and on….the people….the places…..the conveniences…..the relationships….the mystery….the love that makes up my life. The challenge isn’t knowing what I should be grateful for. The challenge is keeping it all near to my mind and heart throughout the ordinary, during times when sorrow encroaches, and when I get so accustomed to it all I stop really seeing it.
So! How about we practice a little interactive gratitude and list the first 5 things that come to mind that we feel grateful for? Not necessarily the TOP 5, mind you….just the first 5. I’ll go first:
1. This blog – writing brings me focus and release, even if it’s just for me. =)
2. A wonderful life-partner who challenges me to think bigger and supports my crazy ideas.
3. Technology that makes connecting and sharing feel safe and productive.
4. Season 30 of Survivor starts tonight!!
5. The warm embrace of God’s love – always there, though I don’t understand how or why…. <3
Now it’s your turn! Ready………GO!