Dear Ann,Thank you for your beautiful words. I first began reading your blog (A Holy Experience) in the middle of last year and was captivated by the honest, encouraging and inspiring words you write there. Today your book (One Thousand Gifts) arrived at my door all the way from America and again I am lifted up by your words.
As I have been keeping my own list of gifts given by God, things I am thanking Him for, I also have asked:
“I think how God-glory in a cheese ring might seem trifling. Even offensive, to focus the lens of a heart on the minute, in a world mangled and maimed and desperately empty.”
I have asked the question many times, wondered also if my own list is trite and offensive to those who have so much less than I, who by circumstance of birthplace are ravaged by poverty, exploitation, war or persecution. My answers have been non-answers, feeling guilty, wondering if I should be asking for suffering in order to be a true disciple? I was not ready for the wisdom of your next paragraph:
“I know there is poor and hideous suffering, and I’ve seen the hungry and the guns go to war. I have lived pain, and my life can tell: I only deepen the wound of the world when I neglect to give thanks for early light dappled through leaves and the heavy perfume of wild roses in early July and the song of crickets on humid nights and the rivers that run and the stars that rise and the rain that falls and all the good things that a good God gives. Why would the world need more anger, more outrage? How does it serve the world to reject unabashed joy when it is joy that saves us? Rejecting joy to stand in solidarity with the suffering doesn’t rescue the suffering. The converse does. The brave who focus on all things good and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world.” (p58)
I am such a novice in gratitude and thanksgiving, I am taking small steps unsure where the path is going but seeing enough signs along the way of the leading of Christ that I know He wants me to walk in this.
Interestingly, only yesterday I was considering my gratitude list and what it is about. I realized that in participating in a community of people all recording similar lists of thanksgiving it is easy to slip into something of a numbers game and seek simply to lengthen my list out of pride rather than true thankfulness and rejoicing in Christ. On the other hand, I am sure that items make it onto my list for which I am truly thankful but have others utterly mystified as to what I even mean, let alone why I’d be thankful for them. Then there are all the things which I thank God for deeply and a few words on a numbered list simply cannot capture the depth of gratitude and dependence of hope which hang upon them.
Therefore I am going to reduce my concern over how many items are on my list and go for depth. My list may grow more slowly but hopefully my soul will grow more deeply. I want to ponder why I am thankful as well as what I am thankful for. I want to make it more explicit to myself at least that these ‘little’ things I thank God for are given by Him for my joy – a concept that my heart is reluctant to hold onto.
Gifts I have noticed this week (#238 – #240):
238) My eldest daughter asking so many questions about God, the Trinity, how the Holy Spirit helps us, and what limits have been placed upon Satan. I feel inadequate attempting to answer her questions – I think I understand in my head but it comes out all garbled when trying to express the ideas to a nine-year-old. Yet it is so encouraging that she is curious, is concerned and knows that Jesus is all-mighty. It helps me read the Bible with new eyes to be reading it to a child who is eagerly trying to figure out who and how God is. Most of all I am greatly encouraged that she is thinking all this through for herself rather than just believing what she is told in order to keep her parents happy.
239) Encouragement to continue counting gifts.
240) Grandma and Poppa reading bedtime stories: