Lord, thank You for today. I started out slowly, just couldn’t seem to get any traction. Took my time this morning, simply because I could. Thank You for that too. Worked a bit, not a lot, just a bit. Spent a few minutes reveling in the afternoon light off the Duck boardwalk. Saw behavior of Canada Geese I have never seen before, such flapping and carrying on! So that was neat. Thought we might have a sunset, but the cloud cover overtook any color. But I came home relaxed and refreshed. I am amazed how even a few minutes outside is so restorative. I can still feel the calm, still hear the soft sounds of the geese and the swan. Oh, and the blast-off when the boat motored by, even though it was way off. Beautiful. So thank You.
Why do you thank Me for that?
Because I appreciated it, and because someone–Someone–ought to hear, thank You. Because…because You are an Artist, and I love Your handiwork! No, seriously, God. I mean it. Everywhere around I can find–as I did yesterday, and I am sorry for that–reasons to fear, or reasons to be in turmoil. And everywhere around I can find–as I did today, reasons to rejoice, reasons to be glad, reasons to be thankful. So if I am thankful, then it makes sense to me there must be a “You” to say, thank You, to.
You think you so quickly revert to fear, but the opposite is true. You so quickly revert to gratitude. I want you to think back, back as far as you can. I know there were reasons to fear, in your childhood, especially from older kids who bullied you. But when did you begin to learn to rejoice? When did you begin to learn gratitude?
I wouldn’t have termed it that way, Lord. I remember I loved nature early. The apple trees, the willow tree, the lilac forest of my very young childhood. Hi-Baby the goat, I loved her. She loved me and I loved her back. And Sammy, my first kitty. And before Sammy, the neighbor kitten that always followed me home. There was love all around me, God–not just from my folks, from critters, too. Even as a really young child, I loved being outside. I was much more at home outdoors than inside playing with dolls. Rocks, I loved rocks. Still do. Still love all those same things I loved as a little kid! I learned to say please and thank you out of politeness. Now I think I say it out of love.
Indeed you do. Those who love deeply cannot help overflowing with gratitude, for they see the world through a lens that first, looks for the good, the positive, in every situation, and second, that operates from a perspective of abundance, in which everyone may receive. What are the top ten gratitudes you would list from your childhood?
You want me to name them now?
Uh, isn’t this supposed to be about You talking more than about me talking?
Trust Me. Go ahead.
Ok. Well. I think the first would have to be, Lord, I am grateful for my life. I was a miracle baby, I know that. The fact that I am here at all is amazing. Knowing that as a fact has definitely shaped the person I have become.
So my second gratitude is, Lord, I am grateful for my folks, for their love of me, for growing up in a home that was safe, and loving. I’m especially grateful for how close my Mom and I were, and even though this reaches far beyond childhood, I am glad I was able to grow closer to my Dad before he died.
My third gratitude is, I am grateful for all the animals I had growing up. They enriched my life in so many ways, and without siblings, were my first companions beyond my parents.
My fourth gratitude is, I am grateful for the school I went to, though I wasn’t at all grateful for a long time, during those school days. I am grateful I was blessed with a good memory (and where did that go, by the way?) and that I am still in touch today with so many from my childhood and teen years.
My fifth gratitude is, I am grateful for those trees I mentioned–the apple tree I learned to climb, the apple tree I watched every summer for the largest apple, the apple tree with the swing Daddy built. And for the willow tree, my sanctuary spot when I needed to think. And the lilac bushes that truly were a forest when I was just learning to walk, such a magical place.
My sixth gratitude is, I am grateful to have grown up in a home with music and art, with warm wood furniture and handmade things, with a mom who painted and played the piano. I look at my life today and think how much my parents would have loved this, and the reason I love my life is a direct result of their love of the arts.
My seventh gratitude is, I am grateful that I was encouraged in my childhood interests and hobbies, from my first polaroid camera to an early guitar and drum set, to science encyclopedias for middle school and a geology kit in grade school. My folks scrimped, I know now, to provide all sorts of opportunities for me to grow.
My eighth gratitude is, I am grateful that when I got the courage up to tell my folks I did not want to study French in college (something I had said I wanted to do since early elementary school!) but I wanted to study English instead, and write, they were completely supportive. I felt such relief, I wasn’t letting them down at all.
My ninth gratitude is, I am grateful for the friends I made as a child, and as a teenager, as I said above. Many are still friends to this day.
And last but by no means least, God, I am so grateful for You. You began to draw me to yourself in grade school, and when I made a commitment to live my life in union with You, at 16 years old, You changed everything for me. So much teenage angst and beginning depression began to lift then. Not that it all went away overnight, but I owe the kind of life I get to live today to all those seeds planted in my early years. Thank You.
Now, why don’t you invite your readers to do the same exercise you just completed? As you said, everyone has memories of some sort of turmoil, and everyone can point to some turmoil around them right now. But everyone also has reasons to say thank you, to express gratitude, to enumerate blessings past and present.
Ok, Lord. Good idea. You heard God–take a few minutes. If you have some scrap paper, or a computer screen, jot down a list. 10 things. From your early years, things you may not have thought about for decades, if ever. 10 thank-you’s. 10 blessings. Go!