This is the twelfth day of the Love Blog Challenge
hosted by the lovely BelleBrita
Prompt for 2/18: Gratitude
I wrote a little collection of essays on gratitude.* It’s like an acrostic, except instead of reading the first letter of the lines of the poem, you read the first letter of the titles of my essays. They spell T*H*A*N*K*F*U*L. It has been illustrated as a coloring book by a close friend, each picture a reflection of the essay. I love them all.
Here’s the essay for the letter L – Life.
The blessings of life. Ahhhh … love and laughter, excitement and adventure. New life, the joy of youth, the satisfaction of success, the wisdom of age.
And you’d think that, as a writer, I would be skilled at capturing daily thoughts each and every day, journaling page after page of deep thoughts and heartfelt thanks. But, to be honest, the pressure of daily journaling is just too much for me. Some days are just so daily.
But I’ve found something that helps me see beyond the daily-ness and move into a heart of daily gratitude.
Think about your normal days – even the normal ones that are more busy than usual or that include chaperoning a field trip or hosting a small group of friends for a casual dinner. Most days are regular. They may include events more special than others, a birthday celebration or short trip to see Mom, or maybe a meeting with the CEO, but by and large, our days are the get-up-and-brush-your-teeth kind.
But what if we thought of each day as less daily and more of a chance to gather gratitude? What if, instead of making a checklist of things to do, we created a thanks-list of things we loved or things that took our breath away or things that we could never imagine happening to us.
This could turn into a gratitude journal – one of those really pretty books that has dates and lines to record good things each day. But I’d really like to promote these “thanks-lists” as a frame of mind – a mental and spiritual state of just abiding in a state of thankfulness.
I move that gratitude be our go-to position. Gratitude for a beautiful sunrise, rain to replenish the earth, a lost tooth, just enough sugar for the cookies, just enough energy for that last story.
I wish for all the world that I could give you a personal example of go-to gratitude. I wish my life could be a shining example of uninterrupted “Thanks”.
But, alas, it’s not.
In fact, there are many times my go-to is more like why me? than anything resembling a thankful heart.
But I’m moving toward a more grateful life. Most days I practice the Daily Examen, “a technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God’s presence and discern his direction for us. The Examen is an ancient practice in the Church that can help us see God’s hand at work in our whole experience.” The Examen recommends that you do your reflection of the day in the evening, but that doesn’t work for me. So, when I wake up, I reflect and pray by using five simple, guiding statements:
- Become aware of God’s presence.
- Review yesterday with gratitude.
- Pay attention to your emotions.
- Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
- Look forward to the day.
On each 2-page spread of my journal, I have stamped five shapes. And in my favorite, the circle stamp, I make a list of the large and small things in my daily yesterday for which I am grateful. I briefly record daily events and surprises as small as rock-star parking on a rainy day and as big as an answer to a prayer for healing.
Now what I’m working on is turning that circled list into an on-going “thanks-list.” Not a carefully calligraphed list to frame or even just write. No, this one I keep close to my heart and in my mind while all that daily-ness happens.
I want to be that girl who shoots up a Wow! Thanks, God, for rock star parking. Or for the “forgotten” umbrella right there in the car when the good parking spaces are all gone. I want to be so aware of the blessings and goodness around me that I don’t even have to think about it. I’ll thank the barista for a lovely foam milk design on my latte at the coffee shop. And, when things don’t go quite as planned, instead of saying Why me?, I’ll say “Thanks for the challenge” or “Where are you sending me this time?”
I want to be that girl who lives and breathes gratitude. I want my grateful heart to spill over onto other people who need a little extra dose of encouragement for the day – or even those who maybe could practice a little more thankfulness in their own daily-ness.
I want to be that girl, God. That grateful girl.
*If you are interested in getting a copy of the book, please contact me. I’m still figuring out a convenient way to make it available.