Tomorrow I will be starting a series of poems based on the phrases of the Lord’s Prayer. I welcome your comments, both on the poems and on my interpretations of the prayer.
Some days it’s easier to keep an attitude of prayer. On a day when the sun is shining, it’s not too cold, and my husband and I can get out to snowshoe in a local park, it’s easy to find reasons to quietly thank God in my head. Listening to the crunch of snow, the calls of brave birds, watching the slanting light pick sparks off the trees, meeting friendly dogs out for a run, holding hands and sharing grins — all combine to make a hardly-noticed undercurrent of “thank You”. Having an attitude of joy is easy when a cup of hot tea and a plate of home-cooked food waits when we come in from the cold. No pressure today — school’s canceled for Monday because of cold temps, so I’m free to enjoy husband, home, and friends with no worries.
But what about when Tuesday, or Wednesday, comes? When the snow’s gone gray and slushy as I fight through traffic? When I’m snatching a cold sandwich in the fifteen or twenty minutes left on my lunch break? When a class of vacation-crazy fourth-graders forget everything they knew about math and manners? When I’m flying from one seeming disaster to another and only have a second to glance out my window at the brick wall outside?
Yeah. That’s when the silent call is less gratitude and more get-me-out, less joy and more jaundiced, less focused on good gifts and more focused on “how exactly did I get myself into this???”
So how to keep my sparkling Saturday gratefulness from bogging down in the grey slush of Wednesday? It’s got to start by being mindfully grateful. Not just the happy, barely-conscious murmurings stemming from a day that’s restful and beautiful, but deliberately searching for something in the greyness to thank God for. When I start looking for things to be thankful for, I find more than I expected and more than I bargained to find. Somehow the action of deliberate gratitude births more gratitude, until a plain, ordinary workday becomes studded with little sparkles of gratefulness and gifts.
I’m not saying I achieve this every day. Not every day is horrible, and not every day is chock-full of wonderfulness either. I do live in the real world. But I find that the more I try to find things to be thankful for, the more my heart is tilted in the direction of gratitude and away from the stress, complaints, and even fears that tend to crowd out the joy on most ordinary days.
One of my favorite Christian bloggers, Ann Voskamp, spends many of her blog posts and books talking about giving thanks all day every day. She, like most of us, struggles with the day-to-day slog, with worries and stress and fear. She doesn’t live in a perfect world. But the more she reaches hands to God in thankfulness, the more those things slide off rather than sink in. It’s a daily striving to re-focus on good rather than evil, on God’s grace rather than our shortcomings, and to re-orient ourselves to the direction of heaven.
I’m finding already (though it’s only been a couple days) that just writing this blog is making me more mindful of prayer, of talking to God in that inaudible murmur of my soul, of turning my eyes toward Him more often. I hope that continues on Tuesday, and Wednesday, and through the rest of this year.
And you? I pray you will find that silent gratitude, and that deliberate thankfulness, to lift you just that little bit higher, out of the slush and into the sun.