I read one of her essays yesterday, and I’m pretty sure my chain was yanked, my conscience was tweaked, my soul was stirred, my spirit was convicted.
For years I’ve been advocating the power and pleasure of being grateful. I kept a gratitude journal for a full decade without fail – and urged everyone I knew to do the same. Then life got busy. My schedule overwhelmed me. I still opened my journal some nights, but my ritual of writing down five things I was grateful for every day started slipping away.
Here’s what I was grateful for on October 12, 1996:
- A run around Florida’s Fisher Island with a slight breeze that kept me cool.
- Eating a cold melon on a bench in the sun.
- A long and hilarious chat with Gayle about her blind date with Mr. Potato Head.
- Sorbet in a cone, so sweet that I licked my finger.
- Maya Angelou calling to read me a new poem.
A few years ago, when I came across that journal entry, I wondered why I no longer felt the joy of simple moments. Since 1996, I had accumulated more wealth, more responsibility, more possessions; everything, it seemed, had grown exponentially – except my happiness. How had I, with all my options and opportunities, become one of those people who never have time to feel delight? I was stretched in so many directions, I wasn’t feeling much of anything. Too busy doing.
But the truth is, I was busy in 1996, too. I just made gratitude a daily priority. I went through the day looking for things to be grateful for, and something always showed up.
Sometimes we get so focused on the difficulty of our climb that we lose sight of being grateful for simply having a mountain to climb.
My life is still crazy busy. Today, though, I’m continuously grateful for having the stamina to keep going. And I’m back to journaling (electronically, this time around). Whenever there’s a grateful moment. I note it. I know for sure that appreciating whatever shows up for you in life changes your whole world. You radiate and generate more goodness for yourself when you’re aware of all you have and not focusing on your have-nots.
I know for sure: If you make time for a little gratitude every day, you’ll be amazed by the results.
Sometimes, I think, I know, her perspective is a little far off the norm of my worldview according to my belief in God, but I am in no position to be an authority on all things, and she kicked me in the pants here. Or rather, the Holy Spirit knocked me on the noggin through this essay.
So, I return once again to my ritual of being grateful every day, for every last thing, and busy is no excuse any longer. I will take the time.
I am grateful that I am part of a family that carries hymnals with them on overnight trips for a family sing-along.
I am grateful for memories of Sunday night singspirations in the old sanctuary, hearing people call out their favorite hymn numbers to sing next. “How about number 347, Victory in Jesus?”
I am grateful for the sound of a little waterfall over small rocks and into a pond.
I am grateful for the beauty of the ritual of spring burning in the fields.
I am grateful for my sister who introduces my dad to new things in Kansas City.
I am grateful that I have a mountain to climb and that I am ascending, not descending.
I am grateful for dirty pennies found on our walks. We will forever pick them up, thanks to Aunt Patsy. “They are reminders to trust in God, because they say, ‘In God We Trust.'”
I am grateful for the smell of sheets washed with Clorox.
I am grateful for daffodils and hyacinths poking through.
I am grateful for the chorus of Blessed Assurance. “This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior, all the day long…”
I am grateful for Sundays and quiet mornings and birds singing and wind blowing and the sounds of the dryer drying and moments to pray for my girls and their challenges and friends in Oklahoma and my family.
I am grateful for a warm shower.
I am grateful for tears that well when the doxology is sung in acapella harmony and the words come alive down deep. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” Ahhhh-men.
And I am grateful for Oprah.