One of my summer projects is to recopy my Gratitude Journal, now just a stack of pages printed from my blog over the eighteen months I've been on this journey. As I can only handwrite ten or so entries at a time because of my rheumatic hands, even with my favorite fountain pen, it's been slow going. But it's also good that it's been slow--I've had time to re-thank God for each item on my list as I recopy, to ponder each entry's significance and to remember my frame of mind when I jotted it down, pinning gratitude to paper, creating permanence out of what can feel like nebulous prayers that slip from mind, never to return.
And it's also been wonderful reading Ann's book this summer. It's the only book I've purchased all year, and after being a fan of her blog for the past two years, it's nice to settle into her writing, experiencing bigger chunks of it at a time.
But it's not easy reading--not because of her beautiful, poetic style; no, not that at all--but because she challenges our ungratefulness, our un-seeing of what God has placed before us as gifts, the ones right under our noses that we see each day but don't actually SEE. And she challenges us to thankfulness for the seemingly bad things--and Ann's life has seen heart-wrenching grief. She calls it the "hard eucharisteo"--the difficult thanks, the ones we can't see for the longest time but thank on faith that there's beauty underneath the ugliness, grace underneath the sin.
But such eucharisteo (thankful) living does not come easy to us, even to us Christ-followers. The Christian life lived for His glory requires much effort, much willingness to examine our own motivations and deeply-hidden sinful ways, a willingness to take the time to look and truly, truly SEE.
And seeing cannot be rushed.
Our "nows" cannot be rushed through--and this is something that I must learn, I who sprint through my days always looking toward "the next thing" that needs doing and neglecting to focus on "the now thing" right under my nose. I who watch wristwatch and measure minutes, pushing children through homeschooling assignments, tapping toes impatiently at undone chores, and not truly seeing the grace that inhabits my days, simply because I'm too busy mind-organizing the upcoming three tasks that "need" to be done.
And this rushing ingratitude is why I decided nineteen months ago to slow down and count the graces, journeying toward One Thousand Gifts with the Gratitude Community at Ann's beautiful blog, A Holy Experience.
So although I'm posting a few days late because of headache and everything-ache, because strength flags as mercury rises, I did jot these on Monday, thanking God this week for:
571. ...the rustle of squirrels in branches hanging heavy to the ground with Pippins
572. ...praying in morning warm on our front porch, a church service of one
573. ...sweetness of mango steeped in black tea, deepest brown in blue ceramic
574. ...drone of neighbor's mower, tidying nature's summer abundance
575. ...bright emerald of summer Locust tree leaves, reaching toward noonday sun
576. ...warm breezes caressing, mountain-scented and pure
577. ...antique lamps born in 1926 gracing our yard, hugging them close in thanks as need trumps beauty before buyers arrive
578. ...laughter rippling from county park, child-joy wafting on weekend breezes across sun-browned meadow
579. ...pen glazing blue ink across paper as Gifts are remembered, rethanked, recopied
580. ...deep age-grooves, stung with sap, in vanilla-scented Jeffrey pines, stout with its decades
And thus the journey continues ever onward, as the truth of the old adage seeps into brain, remaining and remaining: seeing is believing.
Seeing all things anew in His grace,