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Practicing Gratitude

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I write this at the top of a mountain, covered with trees and ravines and creeks flowing through it. The clouds just opened up to allow the sun to shine through and to provide a bright blue backdrop to the scenery. I’ve been on the train for about 17 hours now with hardly any sleep. But here time seems to have stopped and I am enjoying the moment – each moment.

And I am thankful.

Gratitude has been a major theme in my reflection during this trip. It’s kinda hard to be immersed in nature for the past 9 days and not be thankful.

Christine Pohl, in her recent book Living into Community, writes: “Our capacity for gratitude is not connected with an abundance of resources but rather with a capacity to notice what it is that we do have” (pg. 27).

Shortly after I had arrived on Vancouver Island, we celebrated my friend’s birthday. The children (twins – age 3) took me outside because they wanted to show me something. A snail. We watched for I don’t know how long a snail that didn’t really do anything spectacular. It just was. Zion looked up at me with this huge smile, “He’s kinda cute!” Every day after it rained, we ended up doing a snail hunt at some point. Their curiosity and attention spans are admirable. But the joy that exuded from them as they took the time to notice the snail was inspiring.

Through these beautiful children, I was challenged to stop and notice. And there has been a lot to notice. We saw peacocks that just amazed me and goats that tried to climb on top of us. We saw trees wider than my height and 20 meters taller than the man-made Leaning Tower of Pisa. We danced in the living room to music and to just let our sillies out. We went window shopping in downtown Victoria where each window held something fascinating that captured their hearts and minds. We took a trip up to Nanaimo and sat on the deck watching humming birds and enjoying the stunning view.

Zion would frequently greet me with “How is your great day?” And as we gave thanks before meals together, both Amaya and Zion would give thanks for the day and for all the food before us.

Oh how I have so much to be thankful for. This trip has been more than I had ever hoped it to be. I feel full of joy and peace and a sense of being close to my maker. I’ve enjoyed good conversations with close friends and visited with relatives. I visited the Vancouver Aquarium which was incredible – I was amazed at the spectacular colours and designs of the jellyfish and how they moved and floated through the water. I’m now off to visit the rest of the relatives.

As I sit in the train with the movie of nature capturing my attention, I am reminded of the sheer privilege of being in a position to take a vacation. To afford to take time off work and to afford to travel through Canada. Thankful to be able to see a part of creation and to truly rest.

But there is more than this trip that I need to be thankful for.

I have so many friends – so many dear friends – who hold me up in prayer, encourage me and who care about me. I have people who have sacrificed so much for me over the years and given their hearts, homes, and so much more to me. There have been tons of people praying over the years – people I know and people I don’t know. I have a ‘family’ that is larger than I could ever imagine. I have relatives who have cared for me. I have people who have walked with me in dark times and light.

I have an amazing job that brings me joy and is opening doors that I never dreamt would be ones I would walk through. I am able to use both my gifts of creativity and my intellectual mind as well as do what I most love to do – and get paid for it! I take care of a little one year old who makes me smile and the parents have been a huge gift to me. I’ve been accepted into a program that is ‘right’.

I want to take the lessons that the twins gave me into my life in Toronto. It’s so easy to get caught up in the mire and frustration of this world. It’s easy to complain.

But I want to take time to notice the snails and caterpillars and to thank God for the beauty of this life he has given me.

I want to practice gratitude.

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