My sister lent me a book on gratitude last week: One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Wonderful reading. She speaks of slowing time down by seeing the glory right before our eyes and being grateful. Practicing presentness. My sister gave me this book to read because it reminded her of how I live (what a compliment!) and it is true that I notice small glories on a daily basis. I take the time to marvel in the iridescence of insects, how sunlight falls on my daughter's hair, and I worship God when I chop an array of colorful vegetables. When I wake in the middle of the night and Andy's as warm as a brick oven, I listen to his steady breathing and I'm thankful. I know I won't always have those moments; all things are taken away.
But now I am getting to the hard part of gratitude: being thankful in ALL things. That is where peace dwells and it is a hard discipline to learn. Two summers ago, I was very ill. I could do nothing for about a week. Time crawled. I cried. Utterly miserable. I still want to cry now when I think about that long week and how sick I felt in my soul. But the oddest thing happened. As I lay there unable to hardly be, I started praying with the most sincere gratitude I had ever experienced. I was so thankful for air-conditioning! Toilets! Water that ran from a faucet! What a marvel that machines had plucked fluffs of Egyptian cotton, worked it into strands and their softness and smoothness was soothing me now. And it went on from there: I was overcome by all my days of health and wealth, the love in my life, the goodness all around.
My mother and I have the best talks. I shared this experience with her and how odd it all seemed to me. She said it was the Spirit of God in me helping me get through that week. Could it be? If He wanted to help me, why didn't He just help me feel better? Of course, I know the answer to that - God is not up there working to keep me happy every second. He has deeper plans in mind. He knew that in time I would treasure that memory. He helped me in a way that still soothes the broken places in my soul.
I have one of those sensitive constitutions that become nauseous and ill fairly easily. Stress, noise, headaches - for some reason this causes my insides to melt. Last month, I was feeling overcome by my body at Walmart and I remembered: gratitude. I took deep breaths and thanked God for the abundance on those supermarket shelves. And it helped. He was near and He was present and I was grateful.