In revisiting some of my journaled Examen* prayers, both new and old, I captured a snapshot of things for which I’ve been grateful. Over the past year, I wrote and prayed Thank-you for:
- Rich choral harmonies. In the Western tradition of music, harmony reigns supreme. When listening to my favorite voices, I close my eyes, so as not to detract from the sound, and drink in the gifts of major and minor chords, fluid melodies, lush harmony and voices of all shapes, sizes, and colors.
- Spying on birds through my studio window. There are two lilac trees that frame the window next to my writing desk. Several birds call them home or good places to visit. They don’t know it, but I watch them hop and scamper about on the branches, heavy with leaves and blossoms. I watch them with joy and gratitude.
- No sub plans. When I left teaching, one of the benefits was the freedom to be sick. Whenever I wake up with a bad cold, the flu, or crippling back pain, I can simply roll over and heal. I don’t have to log on and request a substitute. I don’t have to hastily put on sweats and a hat at 6:00 a.m., race to school, and frantically prepare my room for a substitute teacher, hoping no one sees me in my miserably less-than-professional condition. Oh, good golly, Miss Molly, every single “thank you, Jesus.”
- Tim’s generosity. My husband is willing to give or help almost anyone with anything.
- Enough to share. Tim’s generosity is possible because we have been given plenty. Some of it we have earned. Some has been passed down. Either way, we have resources to spare and we are blessed with the gift of giving.
- Affirmation in unexpected places from unexpected people. As I work through questions about faith and the Bible, I look for understanding and encouragement from those with similar doubts or uncertainty. When a girl who could be my granddaughter spoke up recently at a non-profit meeting, contesting rigid policies proposed for very controversial issues, I sat up a little straighter and cheered her on. I also captured some of that bravado.
- … so I’m getting more outspoken. With the understanding and encouragement in unexpected places from unexpected people, I am giving myself permission to step out a bit more boldly about the not-a-crisis-in-faith I am living. Stay tuned.
- Jesus is there with the little ones. One catalyst for my new-found courage is the crisis at the border and how those in different faith “camps” are responding. I am grieved that the administration is turning its back on the most vulnerable, while claiming to believe in and serve a loving God and selfless Jesus. I am alarmed by what appears to be a lack of compassion by those I love and have called brothers and sisters in Christ. (And I ask forgiveness if I am unfairly judgmental.)
But I am comforted that Jesus is present with those in conditions of dire need and desperation. He is singing to the tiniest in the night and holding them tight during the day. I know He is.
- It’s not all about me or up to me. Despite my angst about what is going on in the world, I know my particular flavor of outrage and my focused perspective or opinion do not significantly impact the world. Thankfully, it has not been left to me to solve the problems of the world — just those placed in front of me, for which I have the passion and the skills to improve or repair. (And I think we can all be grateful for that.)
- Hope for the future. Whether on earth or in Heaven, I am grateful for hope – for me, my family, my friends, my community, and the world.
Again, and really, truly: Thank you, Jesus.
My lovelies, ten is just not enough, is it? The list of fundamental, timeless thank you’s is endless – the sacrifice of Jesus, an eternity in Heaven, my family, Audrey’s little kisses, a good cup of coffee and a cupcake, a zillion books on my Kindle, a small but loyal tribe of blog followers, and getting rid of the hiccups. Just too, too many good things.
Today, though, I wanted to think about gratitude for some of the more serious stuff.
Besides, I figure you already know how I feel about chocolate.
*In case you are curious, for my Examen practice, I stamp five empty shapes on each two-page spread in my journal. In each, I respond to one of the five prompts:
- Look back on the events of the day.
- Review the day with gratitude.
- Pay attention to your emotions.
- Choose one emotion of the day and pray from it.
- Look forward to tomorrow.
In the circle, my favorite of the shapes, I review the day with gratitude. Like this: