This morning’s Scripture reading in the REJOICE! Devotional booklet was Psalm 118 which reminds us over and over to give thanks to God because God is good and God’s love endures forever. Yesterday was my monthly personal retreat day and as usual I spent the morning journaling and processing the past month’s activities, relations, and emotions. And, as usual, much of the processing had to do with personal stresses, concerns about people, difficult circumstances, etc. I reason that by writing my personal rants and laments in my journal I am less likely to inappropriately take it out on people around me. By writing I am letting these things go and relinquishing them to God. In my Psalms class I teach we just finished the “psalms of disorientation” [see Walter Brueggemann] last week and I told students that God gave us these poems to express our anger, to complain to God, to lament things that don’t go right, etc. So if God gives us such poems then it is definitely acceptable and good to express anger, complain to God, and lament! But today there was a different psalm before me [118 is a psalm of new orientation].
The writer referred to Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. Although I have not read the book it seems to encapsulate my philosophy of life—to embrace the present moment whether it is pleasure, pain or mundane. The dare given to the author—and repeated by the devotional writer—was to list one thousand gifts to be thankful for. For starters, I tried it for today.
The first gift came to my mind in the Costco parking lot as I did my usual 10 metre sprint before jumping on my shopping cart and riding it toward the door. My knees are still well enough to do this! Thank-you! And as I punched in my PIN number for $200 worth of groceries I was thankful that I did not even have to think about whether I would have enough to pay for everything in my cart because both my partner and I have good-paying work. And not only good-paying, we both feel fulfilled in being able to use our gifts to educate children and young adults. Then I was thankful for a yard big enough to have a garden. I puttered and planted some onions that had started growing in the bag [I hope the experiment works] and noticed that the winter kale was full and sweet, the rhubarb was beginning to branch out, and the berries were getting leaves. Thank-you! As I walked back to the garage I was just about to complain that my bike tire that has had a slow leak for a few weeks was now flat when I realized that perhaps it would be better to be thankful for the bike and the fact that I noticed this at home in the garage and not on the way to class in the rain. In the process attempting to put on the new tire the wrist I had injured a few weeks ago was aggravated, for which I uttered some deprecatory psalmic curses under my breath—words which eventually turned to thanksgiving for my neighbour with stronger wrists who was able to help me out. Thank you for this mundane day. Now I’m told it is “earth hour” which means it’s time to turn off all electric appliances, for which I am also thankful!