Monday, August 19, 2013

Notice the Gifts, and Name Them

1.  A flowering vine that grows by Flannery's bedroom window.
The buds look like little pyramids before they bloom.  
I read a book a few months ago, and at the time, it didn't seem all that ground-breaking.  It was called "1,000 Gifts" by Ann Voskamp, and it was about how Ann Voskamp changed her life by making a list of the gifts she noticed each day, on a dare by one of her friends to write down 1,000 gifts she was thankful for.  It was a neat book, but I didn't think it was life-changing for me at the time I read it.

But, as I have been unpacking here in California, starting from scratch to refill bare walls, and repopulate the medicine cabinet, and reorganize our linen closet, and recreate a feeling of belonging in our nervous little hearts, the words I read have come back to me over and over.  Like these lines:

"I only deepen the wound of the world when I neglect to give thanks for early light dappled through leaves and the heavy perfume of wild roses in early July and the song of crickets on humid nights and the rivers that run and the stars that rise and the rain that falls and all the good things that a good God gives."  -- Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

"Life is so urgent it necessitates living slow." -- Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

"Every breath's a battle between grudgery and gratitude and we must keep thanks on the lips so we can sip from the holy grail of joy."  --Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

Of course, I know that thankfulness is well-documented in the happiness literature as important in happiness. But the idea of making thankfulness a habit, of cultivating in myself a noticing of small gifts each day, and in so doing, opening myself to the present moment more (and thereby to God, who is "I Am," and not "I was", or "I will be"), the idea that thankfulness can be crafted into a habit of being, is really interesting to me.

And so, because I know that moving puts me in a delicate place, happiness-wise, and that starting over in a new place and figuring out how things work in a new routine is always a drain on the energy I have for living my life intentionally, I am challenging myself-- this year, in this new place, with picture frames to-be-hung still stacked against the living room wall and so much left to do and sigh about-- to list the gifts.  To specifically name the beautiful and amazing things in my life each day.

Until I reach 1,000.

What fun!  Will you join me?

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