Gratitude on a January Day

Gratitude on a January Day

Three things I’m thankful for today:
-The song “Kings and Queens” by Mat Kearney–especially the line “Richer than Solomon with you by my side” as he expertly blends Scripture into his songs
-Weekend food leftovers to power me through the start of another week
-Books: owning them, reading them, and anticipating their arrival

There is something about gratitude that shifts the perspective.  A few years ago, I was in the practice of writing down things for which I was thankful.  They were often small, inconsequential things.  Yet, even now, when I look back at those pages in my notebook, I smile at the glimpse into my heart and life during that time.

A random sampling from my gratitude journal:
3. Principal observation on a movie day
5. Peace after expressing frustration
29. Gusts of wind that make crunchy leaves trip down the road
37. The post-run feeling of health (following the post-run feeling of death)
59. Stretching out in bed at night
69. Eyes crinkled in laughter
80. Heavy hearts sharing the burden through conversation
133. Answered novenas in unhoped for ways
172. Solo supper with Grandma
176. My students telling me which gifts of the Holy Spirit they think I live out
241. Laughter with students instead of going insane

Some of the events I remember.  For others, I’m not quite certain to what I was referring, but there is a beauty in seeing what moved my heart to express gratitude.  Thankfulness is one of those things that doesn’t quite make sense if there is no God.  Who else can I thank for the peace I feel after settling an argument?  Or for the wind that causes leaves to swirl around on the ground?  These would be mere observations or fleeting thoughts unless they could be expressed to someone responsible for them. Continue reading “Gratitude on a January Day”

The Lord provides for the tender hearted

The Lord has given me the gift of a tender heart.  I don’t always view it as a gift, I don’t always want people to know about it, but on occassions I am reminded to be thankful for it.  Now this sensitivity doesn’t mean I cry when I see a dead deer and worry about Bambi.  It also doesn’t mean that I sob over soap operas and run to see every chick flick in theaters. 

What it does mean is that I nearly cried the other night when I saw a gorgeous sunset.  It means I cannot read “A Child Called It” because I feel physically sick and begin to feel depressed.  My sister brought the book home from the library several years ago and I tried to read part of it.  The story focuses on the abuse a young boy endures at the hands of his mother.  I feel sick just thinking about the way I felt when I read the first pages.  This sensitive heart causes me to remember things people said or did years ago that they probably didn’t intend to be lasered into my memory.  It meant that I had to will myself to not cry when my principal was talking to me about how I handled a situation last year.  He wasn’t even angry or yelling at me but I had to keep willing myself to not let the tears fall.  “Trish.  You cannot cry.  You are an adult.”  So I managed to not cry…until he left the room.  Then I sobbed.  This tender heart causes me to cry each time I open it up a little in spiritual direction.  I plan to high-5 Father the first time I manage to walk out of there without having shed tears.  This tender heart causes me to long for Heaven as though I have been homesick my entire life.

Recently a man who had worked with my dad died due to brain cancer.  He kept a blog about the journey he was making with the cancer.  Instead of becoming bitter and cynical or blaming God, he called his cancer “the gift.”  I didn’t really know him, but I loved seeing him at the different Masses around town.  As I read through some of his blog entries, I cried.  He writes about how he sees God each day and encouraged people to look for God wherever they were.  I think of the family he leaves behind and I mourn for them.  Yet I also think (though I don’t intend to minimize their pain) about what a gift all of it actually could be for them.  To know that you will be dying and soon.  It would make me live each day to the full.

But shouldn’t I already be doing that?  Why is it that the fear of death suddenly makes us desire to live?  St. Irenaeus said, “The glory of God is man fully alive.”  I want to be fully alive.  Sometimes it takes a sunset to wake me from my stupor.  Or the feeling of holding a beautiful niece in my arms as she squirms and smiles.  Every now and then I am just struck by reality–the grass is really green or the sky seems so clear.  Suddenly I can see and I realize how blind I let myself become 

Lord, help me to embrace this tender heart.  This heart that causes tears to well up in my eyes at inconvenient times and yet allows me to see a beauty that is perhaps overlooked.  Above all, help me to place my tender heart within the wound of Your Sacred Heart.  Only there is it truly safe, only there can she find rest.  Thank You, Lord, for this gift called life—the challenges, the heartaches, the joys, the blessings, the experiences of You that reaffirm that all of this has a purpose.  Thank You, Lord.  Amen.