One Thousand Gifts

So much has been on my mind all week. 

This post is not about Boston, but I wanted to share this other post about Boston that really hit home for me. If you are or ever have been a passionate runner, you will especially love it. A friend who is a runner wrote that she is offering up her own training runs in prayer for the runners in Boston and their families. I love this running community, and I definitely have felt its impact in my own life. Praying for Boston.

My husband is in the tunnel of stress and heightened work that is the weekend before Exams. Ugh. 
He already gets an A+ in my book, though - this man is one of the few people I know who don't lose their tempers and their patience with everyone around them when they are stressed. Not once has he snapped at Will or I, and our house has been a total disaster thanks to my own weariness trying to do everything without him. Which makes me feel worse because of all times that he needs an orderly environment, it would be right when I drop the ball. 

But I started reading 1000 Gifts this week even though I bought it like, 3 months ago, and I am starting everything fresh.

Picking up the book this week has been such a direct hit to my heart. It is so tough to swallow and yet fills you with such a thirst for this living in the present moment, this deepening of thanksgiving for your blessings as well as your burdens, whereas I have usually tended to try to thank God "in spite of". 

This section especially hit me over the head yesterday:

"... even for the bread and cup of cost, for cancer and crucifixion"... 

The subtitle of the book, "Dare to live fully, right where you are" sums up the challenge and conviction I feel when I read it. It is so easy to live for a series of tomorrow's  - when my ship comes in, when Jason is done with exams, when the baby comes, when... all these things in the future that I dangle in front of myself to keep me joyful are in fact keeping me from true joy? 

Ann (the author), finds this transformation when she starts making "The List" - "not of gifts I want but of gifts I already have." She has the most beautiful poetic things that she starts to notice in her quiet, simple farm life. 

Like so many others who read this book, I was compelled to start my own list just 30 pages in. Yesterday afternoon, a huge storm was rolling in. We went out to the front yard under a blackening sky, and Will did the first little raindance of his life, pointing up at the sky and shouting "Rain!" I taught him about clouds. We pointed at all the "Cowds" together, towering over the trees, and felt excitement for all the drops about to fall over us. 
the view looking up in our yard

I sat on my front step and I started my List.

1. For little feet dancing in green grass, waiting for spring rain to fall
2. For the wonder in blue eyes, looking up at storm clouds for the first time
3. For the smell of water in the wind
4. For a child's heart, that cries when he sees his mother crying, though he doesn't know why
5. For the canopy of leaves that sprung up on the barren trees almost overnight
6. For the excitement of airplanes flying overhead, invariably pointed out to me by my 2 year old, and the ability to imagine taking him for adventures... second best to actually going, this thrill of anticipation
7. For a quiet life that allows me to sit on my front step and wait for a rain storm, watching my child play
8. For a baby I haven't yet met, stirring inside my growing belly
9. For a swiftly passing season of more dreams than memories

The rest of my evening as the rain poured down, I was filled with this vivid sense of peace. It is so different from the temporary high of happiness. For me, it was an opening of my eyes to see all that is beautiful around me, even as I worked to clean my dirty house, even as I tasted the guilt of failure and the weight of anxiety. 

I can't wait to start a whole journal simply for my own list of 1000 gifts. I'm heading out to Barnes and Noble this morning, actually. I need this. In my thirst for the Beautiful Life, the truly Abundant Life, I tend to be susceptible to this temptation to greed, to restless striving for more. It is my very charismatic Catholic belief that Satan attacks us the most in the areas of our life that God blessed us uniquely, because he is just trying to get to God. I mean, Satan doesn't give two shits about any of us - he doesn't try to destroy our souls out of an interest in us, but out of the hatred for our God that consumes him. Not that I'm a theologian, but I just think it makes sense that if the devil can pervert that which makes us so especially beautiful and gifted, what better way to slap our Creator in the face?

I need this exercise in gratitude to better safeguard the pure desires of my heart that my God created me with. 

Especially during Exam Week. ;)

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