So it seems I’ll have to add Ann Voskamp to my ever-increasing list of women writers who inspire me. After hearing about her from Christine and checking out her blog, I decided to purchase her book, One Thousand Gifts, from Amazon. It’s absolutely gorgeous and her writing style is infused with poetry. I’m reading it slowly and savouring it, which is just how I feel it should be read.
In the book, she works on making an ongoing list of God’s little daily gifts–things for which she is grateful. She keeps a Gratitude Journal (something Sarah Ban Breathnach also recommends keeping) and in doing so, discovers just how blessed she truly is. While it may at first seem trite (“I’m thankful for chocolate? Really?”), Voskamp shows how a heart overflowing with gratitude actually brings one closer to God:
I think how God-glory in a cheese ring might seem trifling. Even offensive, to focus the lens of a heart on the minute, in a world mangled and maimed and desperately empty.
I know there is poor and hideous suffering, and I’ve seen the hungry and the guns that go to war. I have lived pain, and my life can tell: I only deepen the wound of the world when I neglect to give thanks for early light dappled through leaves and the heavy perfume of wild roses in early July and the song of crickets on humid nights and the rivers that run and the stars that rise and the rain that falls and all the good things that a good God gives. Why would the world need more anger, more outrage? How does it save the world to reject unabashed joy when it is joy that saves us? Rejecting joy to stand in solidarity with the suffering doesn’t rescue the suffering. The converse does. The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world.
–from One Thousand Things, AnnVoskamp. Zondervan, 2010.
I’ve started my own Gratitude Journal and I’m noticing that ever since I started recording the tiny little things in life that make me smile and my heart say thanks, I’m much more aware of their abundance. And when I’m noticing, aware, saying thanks, and recording, I’m in a constant state of prayer. Gratitude is a beautiful thing.
Here is a portion of my gratitude list thus far:
1. receiving books in the mail
2. finding old letters from good friends and rereading them
3. yoga by candlelight
4. napping under a thick pile of blankets
5. a tree in Vineland adorned with tiny china teacups
6. pictures of tea and personal tea rituals
7. my Billy bookshelf stacked with books
9. the craft aisle at Walmart
10. pink toenails
11. church bells
12. personal, amateur photographs
13. smooth black ink on the blank white pages of my journal
14. a hot shower after shoveling the snow
15. the sky turning light blue to orange gold at 6:30 a.m.
16. dancing to The Smiths first thing in the morning at work
17. licking honey off the lip of a teacup
18. dessert first!
19. thin steam rising from a coffee cup, dancing and curling
20. listening to Nick Drake’s meditative “Black Eyed Dog” on my bed with my eyes closed as the sun sets and my dog’s head rests on my arm