1,000 gifts: Counting blessingsPublished 11:13am Thursday, November 21, 2013
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I have this much-younger-than-me friend who spent a year in Malawi, backpacked across Europe, and went on archaeological digs in Israel. Now that she’s settled down, it’s just her artwork that goes all over the world.
Occasionally she likes to visit my patch of pines, where we wade her two look-a-likes through the creek and discuss how to navigate different seasons of life.
Whenever this friend with sandals straight from New York is around, I think, “Hey, maybe some of her ‘coolness’ will rub off on me.” My kids let me know quick that is highly unlikely.
So when she gave me this book a couple of years ago, I knew it would be good. Anything that spends 60 weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list ought to be. And in this season of thanks-focus, One Thousand Gifts is a book definitely worth mentioning.
Some time back Canadian author Ann Voskamp got an email challenging her to keep a list of a thousand things she loves – one thousand blessings, one thousand gifts. In meeting that challenge, Voskamp discovered that an attitude of thankfulness toward God had the potential to give meaning to even the messiest parts of her life.
Since mine is not a life without messes, I was intrigued. I looked for a usable notebook to call my own and finally found one in the closet of no return under the stairs. That and a pen, set carefully near the kitchen sink, readied me for my own journey of thanks-counting.
1. sunflowers from seeds
2. husband honking goodbye
3. spaghetti sauce simmering
I followed the author’s lead and took note of the ordinary, everyday stuff. It did me good, this list so very different from other ones crowding the counter – the lists of have-to-buys and need-to-get-dones. I found myself returning to it. Often.
17. playing Mexican train with dominoes
18. one perfect acorn
Something about putting these gifts on paper opened my eyes to what surrounds me. The author likes to use the Greek word for thanksgiving: eucharisteo. I was speaking her language about the time I hit No. 23 (daughter’s humming) and the gratitude started seeping into my soul.
48. lunch out with parents
49. firewood all stacked
There is, of course, what the author calls “hard eucharisteo.” When anger spews from lips you love or the doctor calls – himself. When the air conditioner goes out and bills pile up and you feel the plain old strain of the mundane. How to be thankful then?
“We cannot change what we see, but we can change the way we see it,” Voskamp suggests. But that’s not easy. And it will take more than lined paper to change my grumbling habits.
I must practice – pen in hand – seeing the extraordinary ordinary, being thankful. And I must keep practicing long past the triple digit listings and the thankful Thursday in November.
That, and returning to this entry, just might help me during the rest of the holidays when I start thinking of all the things I want:
134. realizing the gifts I already have
Wesson resident Kim Henderson is a freelance writer who writes for The Daily Leader. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.