|Timothy on Christmas Day, 2009|
Opening gifts is a joyful experience. Usually.
When it's a birthday or Christmas or Mothers' Day, etc., joy arrives in the receiving and in the giving.
We happy parents watch our children unwrap our choice for them, confident in their enjoyment of what is masked by brightly-coloured wrapping paper and elaborately-coiffed ribbons and bows.
We take photos of their smiling faces, placing the images with care in our photo albums, labeling names and dates.
We give; they receive, thanks gushing from their lips.
Do thanks gush from our lips when we receive God's gifts?
God's gifts are not as obvious in their presentation as the gifts we give. No patterned wrapping paper and delightful bow signals to us, "this is a gift from the Lord."
No, we need to have eyes to see and ears to hear, for God's gifts are fleeting at times, a mere flash of insight, a faint whisper of Grace.
And these gifts are the ones I am attempting to count, creating my own album with words rather than photographic images--although a few of those work their way into my remembrances, too.
And as I count, I create space in my overcluttered memory for this slice of Mercy, this dollop of Grace, this whisper of Beauty, this faint sunrise of Praise.
We can't let Busyness triumph or allow the "tyranny of the urgent" to take over, masking the gifts in the wrapping paper of rushing-past-it-all, tied with ribbons of not-enough-time, taped shut with this-must-be-done-NOW.
For these are the gifts unseen, unheard, and thus unopened.
How would we feel if our children didn't see the gift we wrapped so lovingly for them, tied with a bright ribbon, given with a hand-lettered card expressing our love? How would we feel if this gift was passed over in the always-rushing day, never noticed...never opened...never appreciated?
"To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in heaven.
Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress;
So our eyes look to the Lord our God...."
And so we open our eyes that we may behold the wonders of our God (Psalm 119:18), and sing of his strength, sing aloud of His steadfast love (Psalm 59:16), giving thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever (Psalm 118:1).
So the journey to One Thousand Gifts with The Gratitude Community continues, jotting the gifts we see and hear, the gifts we open with joy, even the hard ones for which we see no reason but trust in His infinite goodness....
581. for rain that drenches, puddles gulped greedily by summer-thirsting land
582. for fans that circulate summer-warm air, cooling tempers as well as bodies
583. for bluer-than-blue delphiniums that graciously reseed themselves each year
584. for piano music drifting through our home, original compositions of our middle son
585. for Psalms singing the melody of praise, my heart reaching the high notes that my voice cannot possibly attain
586. for small town parades ending with grand finale of the town heroes: our volunteer firefighters who bravely defend us from autumn scourge of flames
587. for my lap quilt, tied with prayers of our church, purple pansies soft against my face
588. for the reaching out of hearts, deepening dear friendships over pinot grigio and Ben and Jerry's
589. for grace passing through summery days, resting body and mind and spirit
590. for peace of prayer, touching my spirit deep and true and real with tangible grace
591. for the grace of a Raven sent to soul-starved, exhausted Elijah-friend
592. for rolling laughter caused by black-and-white movies watched on humid afternoons
593. for coolness of evening while I journal-write from our front porch, the peace well-worth the mosquito-bites swelling redly on my ankles
594. for solving several challenges of teaching a new class at co-op with a single phone call to a wise friend
595. for eager ideas regarding teaching elementary medieval history this fall, a new class
596. for income at long last, enabling the repair of van brakes and other neglected practicalities
597. for cold, sweet Popsicles on hot, humid evenings
598. for late night chocolate conspiracies with daughter o' mine
599. for celebrating ten years (as of August 4th) of jotting words and phrases in my beloved Quotation Journal
600. for completing two weeks of thanks and opening 600 gifts since the start of this journey in December 2009
For these gifts, now opened, I thank You, Father--for allowing me to see and hear them, smell, taste, and touch them, over this journey of nineteen months. I echo the liturgy of the Psalmist: "For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord" (Psalm 117:2).
With gratitude from the depths of my heart,