Friday, July 27, 2012
Last Sunday, a friend loaned me a book I didn’t even know I needed to read. I have just started it, and already it is working its fingery threads into my spirit. The author tells her story of using her pen to make lists on her way to Eucharisteo: grace, thankgiving, joy. She makes the case for looking closer, getting into the habit of hunting for gratitude in the bits and pieces. She claims, through her story-telling, that painting our thanksgiving in broad strokes does not necessarily bring us life-giving breath. And what she is saying is feeling real for me today.
I am grateful. But I am starting to wonder if I look for and offer my thanksgiving through the same wide gate with which I invite in all manner of anxiety. A few summers ago, when I couldn’t breath and couldn’t sleep and stumbled into the doctor’s office with three small children clutching the bagel-bribes I had brought to keep them still while I made my confession, I learned a new word: globalized anxiety. And now I am seeing that I often offer gratitude with the same blunt instrument. Globalized gratitude. Of course I am glad that
But somehow I am still hungry, still looking for pieces small enough to chew.
And so my mind turns to the bag of beads we brought with us to Bocono. The local word for beads is pepitas (literal translation: seeds). The eye of my camera was drawn to the beauty of bead-stringers against blue walls, lost in concentration, making choices about which color to choose next. And I am thinking there may be a lesson for me in the image. The discipline of choosing gratitude requires that I focus on individual seeds and string them together one at a time, paying some attention to their order and the way they make patterns. The habit of giving thanks in all circumstances is close work. It may be less of a general sun salutation, and more of a writing down, slowing down, forming of syllables, choosing of words. And these words are – in every way – seeds. Small shells of promise, with life inside, waiting patiently to be worked into the humus.
So I offer my first second-look. Yesterday I took a handful of photos at the flower garden. Summer, and the diligent woman who tends the garden, had offered a feast of color and light. But today I noticed something I hadn’t seen before: the rich brown canvas of my baby’s eye had captured the clouds (and even a miniature reflection of myself). In the beautiful almond of his eye, I found the expansive promise of the open blue that wraps us here, offers us rain in season, and filters the powerful rays of our galaxy’s star, lest we be burned. And so I pray: thank you, Lord, for little glimpses and second looks.
Psalm 95:2 “Let us come before him with thanksgiving . . .”