Where do you go when you feel troubled or unsettled? Is there a place you find healing? I don’t have need to go further than my back yard. I open the kitchen door and go into sanctuary, to retreat, to respite. I sit on the stone wall surrounding my herb garden, crush a few leaves of rosemary or mint and breathe deeply. Breath prayers rewarded with familiar fragrance bring to my attention the joy of growing things. I walk the flagstone path between the roses and measure countless blessings. I sit in stillness and wonder by the little pond and watch the silver flashes and ripples, gifts from fish and sunlight. Quiet is broken only by trickling water and birdsong. I witness the miracle of beginnings and rhythms as my eyes wander from new buds to the pregnant green of promised daffodils. I am settled.
When my granddaughter receives a present, she pulls off paper and bow, looks at her surprise with a giggle of pleasure, saying a sweet “Thank you!” The unwrapping and happy surprise come naturally. She has learned to say Thank You.
I have learned this, too.
If I can begin and end my day with gratitude, then the gift of that day has been carefully unwrapped, examined, delighted in, and acknowledged. God has given me a new day and I can choose to meet it by expressing my gratitude for the life and breath that lets me live it, as well as for work to do and strength to do it. Before I sleep again, I can choose to thank Him for what my day has held before I claim His peace for rest and refreshment. Those two bookends hold up my busy days and increase my awareness of being awash in grace.
Years ago I kept a gratitude journal, in which I wrote 3 things I was thankful for every day. I was recently given another calendar/ gratitude journal, this one leaving 5 spaces for each day. I love doing this. I like rereading those entries, because I am reminded of how many things I find for which to be thankful . Seldom are these related to possessions, although often for relationship. I am grateful for Plenty. I am grateful for enough. Gratitude and Contentment don’t mean the same, but they sure do look alike, so I am sure they are kin.
January 8, 2010: Today, I am grateful for a friend’s hug, herbs still growing in my January garden, starting a new book, making a memory with Skye and Lauren last night (movie night: Sound of Music), and these smiles…
I have a stone bench on my back porch that I call a sitting wall. A collection of small stones piled there helps me to pray, especially when(as the photo demonstrates) physical strength has faded. At other times, I pick up and hold like the stones the written prayers of others.
“O God, our times are in your hand: Look with favor, we pray, on your servants–as we begin another year. Grant that we may grow in wisdom and grace, and strengthen our trust in your goodness all the days of our lives.
Draw our hearts to thee, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly thine…then use us to thy glory and the welfare of thy people, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
~ Adapted from the Book of Common Prayer