People have been sending me quotes from Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are for awhile now. An excerpt in an email here, a meme or two tagged on Instagram there. I received the book for Christmas and I wasn’t brave enough to open the spine. Until the book, sitting on my coffee table for weeks, began to whisper at me. I started reading slowly, in January, feeling the weight of such honest words in the pages.
Ann calls us to share in her practice of giving thanks. Much like what I do here, she was desperate to see the good in an aching world. Her list of 1000 things carried me through big questions and the small details in routines, laundry and mess. I’d digest a chapter each morning, while sipping my coffee and watching the sun rise.
Her beautiful prose made me stop, think, ache, and praise. Praise God for all of the good that is granted to us when we just lift our chins to the sun. Or the rain. Or the trauma lingering in our hearts. What happens when we say thank you to God for the experiences we have been given – no matter how painful.
Nothing new here. Not a new concept. Just a radical practice we must do every single day.
The weekend of my birthday I was so caught up in the message of chapter two that I brought the ingredients of communion to my birthday dinner.
On a snowy Sunday I wept into these pages, Ann’s words – Eucharisto – causing me to remember my dad delivering the communion message in front of congregations. Me sitting in the front pew as a five year old, legs dangling from the church bench scratching on old upholstery. The same girl turned teenager, new church, now cold metal chairs, same bread and grape juice. Same version of the last supper. Gospel of Luke. Same truth.
How long had it been since we broke bread and drank from the cup in remembrance of him? In remembrance of the promises that Jesus brings to our lives? Too long. I’m still wrestling with a Jesus who would choose to take good and holy things away from us. Away from me. Ann gets that.
Now grown woman, near thirty, sitting at the kitchen table dotted with turquoise plates. Same bread. Now wine. No father. He’s gone, but the memories remain, my voice picking up where he left off, taking over the verses with less command and familiarity than he. Practice, it will require. Still Luke.
I finished the book this week. And so, inspired again, I have been giving thanks.
Thanks for another birthday. For my health and my dreams of what I want to accomplish this year. For a list of 29 things to do before I turn 30. Gulp. What a privilege.
Whispered thanks in the grocery store that we have an amazing bounty of food to choose from. Thanks for the resources in my bank account to fill a cart without concern.
Thanks for Cara Cara oranges and for lunch with my husband at an overflowing Whole Foods. For the holes made in Ciabatta bread. For thick slices of cheese.
Thanks for friends who come to watch a Super Bowl. For my mom who opened up her house to us. For buffalo chicken dip and celery crunches and puppies staring curiously at the t.v.
Thanks for the woman who wanted to get rid of her piano and the man who daringly saved the beautiful instrument in a warehouse for twenty years. For the dusty tarp protecting the instrument. For the father-in-law and friends who take time out of their day to move the music into my home.
Thankful for boxed cake mix turning to batter, swirling red, mixing chocolate, cold golden egg yolks pooling in a bowl.
Thanks for white cream cheese frosting on knives licked clean.
Thanks for the brilliant creators of This is Us and the reminder that we, my family, that me, that I, have come so far in this process of grief. Thankful for healing and hope and tears.
New music. Old memories. Thanks to raw writers who inspire and breath life into the aching areas of my bones. For the chin tilt that prompts a smile. Thanks for the reminder and choice to delight in the magic of suds in my sink.
The keys, just waiting to be played.
Thanks that we get to play on. How beautiful.