On November 1, I set a goal to write a daily blog of gratitude for the twenty-eight days leading up to Thanksgiving. Seems I pretty well did it. You may have noticed there was no entry for Day 27. Well, I have to say that is the omission that proves the rule. Ha! I know, forgiveness begged. Th
But now it is done. And here, on day 28, I thought I would go for the proverbial whole enchilada. 28 things I am grateful for. Here goes, starting at 28 and counting down.
28. Days, nights and all the in-between hours. Every moment is to be treasured. They will never come again.
27. Sugar and Spice. In moderation, as in most things, these items make taking sustenance so much more enjoyable.
26. Trees. I have neighbors who complain about the leaves from my sycamore and the pine needles from the ancient pines that line my street. I don't usually complain because I think without them, we'd have no shade, the squirrels would no place to play and it would be a desert wasteland.
25. The number 25. I suppose it is because my birthday and Christmas are both celebrated on the twenty-fifth day of their respective months that I like the number 25. It is also a quarter of one hundred for what that is worth. It always sounds so solid, so true. Of course I like 2 and 4 and 9 and 14 and 22 too.
24. Birthdays. It is lovely for everyone to have a special holiday of their own in the sea of holidays we have each year. And the more you have, the longer you live!
23. Anniversaries. Like birthdays, these are unique to the person or persons celebrating them. They are a special way of remembering fond or important milestones, happy or sad, but always personal in nature.
22. Weather - its makes life interesting. Sunshine to rain, wind to drought. Each has a season and each has a lesson to teach if only we pay attention.
21. I am grateful for dreams. They entertain and they enlighten or they mystify and sometimes scare. It gives your mind a chance to play while you rest your body and soul.
20. A roof over my head. I am very fortunate to have a nice home in a nice neighborhood with good neighbors and friends who visit. I am blessed to have a place to lay my head at night and sleep secure and undisturbed.
19. Taste buds. Of course. Without taste buds, we'd eat, but not enjoy. Along with number 27, this makes dinnertime an delectable adventure.
18. Taste...good and bad. Good because it helps me remember to be socially appropriate (not the same as politically correct by a long shot). Bad because it lets me have fun and sometimes have fun with mixing pola dots and stripes ad lib.
17. I am so very glad and grateful I had the chance to get college education. I was the first on my mother's side to do so. My father's brother and sister were both teachers. I am lucky to have gone to school at a time when they taught students how to think and not what to think as it sometimes appears they do today. Critical thinking, being able to discern and discect, appreciate art and music and what makes people tick, well, it has made my life so much richer.
16. My body...good or bad...it serves me well and helps me get around in this world. What a gift to have this vessel to navigate my way around a world of wonders and feel the amazing sensations of its experience of the sight, sound, touch and feeling.
15. My religious and spiritual nature. I have never really adhered to one religion because I feel all religions provide a way to developing a realtionship with God. Spirituality is to me the expression of what we believe. And so, I am grateful for my ability to have beliefs while remaining open to other ways of thinking. That is a real blessing.
14. Television commercials. Say what? Okay, they can be annoying, but good golly, they can be so creative. And someimes they can be blatantly pandering to the more base impulses, but they are a necessary evil, so why not appreciate them? Of course commercials have become easier to cope with the advent of the DVR.
13. I am so very thankful for times of doing nothing. It is difficult for me to just sit and do nothing, but it feels so good when I do.
12. Being busy. I like to be needed. I like to be doing. I like having an agenda, but one that is not particularly binding. Being busy within the scope of being flexible. Like writing blogs....
11. I am grateful to have lived so long. I do hope to live a little longer, but it amazes me just how long a life I have had already. And when I think about it, an interesting life too.
10. Ice cream. How could I not have mentioned ice creams before now? It is one of life's great pleasures. But then so is pie, and candy, and peanut butter and jelly. Bananas and pears and sometimes apples. Strawberries. Oh, then there's salmon and hamburgers from In and Out, tacos and burritos and....well, I guess you could say I am grateful for food. Bottom line, I am grateful that I have so many choices of what to eat every day. Let me not forget what a blessing this really is.
9. Family. The family I was born into and the family I have created since with friends and associates who make my life complete.
8. Facebook. Some might think I am addicted (maybe obsessed) but Facebook has brought something to my life that wasn't there. For me, Facebook is a place to have fun and commect with people I might not have connected with otherwise. I have found people from childhood on FB. I have fun, am silly and cynical and sardonic and funny and witty on FB. I keep it light and that is good for me.
7. Motivation and procrastination. Balancing both, this can serve and has me. Sometimes procrastination has kept me from doing something that might have led to disaster or just been a waste of time. And when motivation strikes, look out.
6. My muse who is so elusive yet keeps feeding me when I feed it.
5. I am grateful for the everyday opportunity to create my the experience I want to have and to do what I want to do. Again, I know not everyone has this opportunity. And I have to remind myself, especially when I guilt myself into doing things I don't really want to...lol.
4. Ching Ching, Tater Totte, Nina and Miguelito...my animal companions. What would life be like without them? They bring me joy and comfort and fun and a sense of responsibility for someone other than myself. There were mornings I am sure I would not have gotten out of bed had it not been for the fact the "kids" needed to be fed and walked. They are lifesavers and life enhancers.
3. Talent. I have talent. I am not always aware of it, not do I always appreciate and honor it. And usually I don't come right out and say it, but I have talent. I can write, I can photograph, I can communicate and suport and I can listen very well.
2. Tommorrow. As long as there is the promise of tomorrow, today will always be worth living.
1. Today. Now. The moment. It is all there really is and it is really the only time we are with our God. God is in the now, the present and always was and always will be. No matter what your take on what God really is...even if you really believe there is no God...there is only now and now and now. And overall, all things I am grateful for, that I have listed here and in these past twenty-eight days, are always with us, here and now.
Salt and Pepper. Day and Night. In and Out. Dogs and Cats. Forks, Knives and Spoons. Combos. Putting things together. Making indivual things better together with other individual things. Somethings stand on their own just fine. Sure they do. I can think of several right off the bat.
Well, actually I can't right now. A pair of socks. Spic and Span. Meat and Potatoes.
It seems that balance comes when things are not alone. Not that being alone is a bad thing. In fact, time alone is often necessary to refuel and regroup. But there is much to be said for multiples of two, three or more. Comfort, support, sharing. Combos are good. Combining things makes unique things into something more than they were while not necessarily losing their individual nature.
This started when I thought "how do I catch up quick. Combining the two days! And so here it is, the combination. Days Twenty-Five and Twenty-Six. Grateful for combos. Not, I'm really grateful for the fact that even when I am short on time, energy and/or inspiration, I can still dredge up some creative way of expressing gratitude for the whole enchilada called life.
I wouldn't describe myself as the steriotypical Christian. I'm not even sure I can claim the Christian title in light of all that conjures up these days. But the power of faith as exemplified by the Jesus in the Bible, would aspire too most certainly.
The sermon at church this morning made me think. No, this is not an unusual experience. Most sermons at First Congregational Church Riverside make me think. This one, delivered by our pastor, the Reverend Jane Quandt, had a different prospective on the story of when Jesus and his disciples were in a small boat at sea and a scwall came up. Jesus is asleep and the disciples, apparently afraid of being swamped, wake him. Jesus, a bit perturbed, stands and commands the calms the waters and winds. The disciples were amazed.
Well, I would be amazed too if someone in the same boat as I stood up during a life-threatening storm and was able to simply command the sea be calm, and it was. Jane focussed on the act of Jesus and how the disciples were not only amazed, but afraid of this show of power by someone they had just signed their allegiance too. Power is daunting. Especially what sometimes appears to be "superpower".
But we all have it. We all have the power to rise up and take charge. We can quell any storm, calm any sea, smooth any tsunami. We can if we have the faith of Jesus. Even if we don't perform miracles like Jesus (or Buddha or Mahammed or Krishna) we are the miracle. We have the power within us to be true Christians. We can stand up and seize our power sluffing off the chains of doubt and fear. We have the power to be true to ourselves and to our God. It just takes faith and trust that in exercising our power and doing the right thing, we will be grateful that we did.
The Scripture cited today:
Jesus Stills the Storm
And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A gale arose on the lake, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We are perishing!’ And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, you of little faith?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?’
I was trying to think of what I should be grateful for today and it seemed like that once again, there are so many things to choose from. This blog could actually go on for a very long time, if not forever. That said, I suddenly flashed on something I am very grateful for: water.
Water is something we could not live without. The human body is between 50 and 75 percent water! Imagine that. And we use water to wash that body and to keep it running as we drink those recommended eight ounces every day. Water falls from the sky, fills our lakes, streams and oceans, nourishes our plants and vegetation and turns to ice to just to cool our drinks and preserve our food.
Water is a miracle. Clear, cool, refreshing. Thank goodness for water.
Rushing toward destiny. We all are. That day, everything changed. I was in Math-Science class with Mr. Racicot at Elmsmere V Pearson Junior High in Redford Township, Michigan. I grew up in Redford, but I never grew up more than that fateful day. It changed everything. As they are saying, we lost our innocence. Maybe more naivete. We thought Camelot had come again. Everything was possible. The nation had turned young again.
And then three shots rang out and everything changed.
I remember feeling shocked, dismayed, sad. They sent us home from school when they reported JFK had died. I remember the trembling voice of the principal over the overhead intercom uttering the news. We walked home, each to our own house. Silently pretty much.
I found my mother weeping, watching the television reports coming in. The images remain yet today. Of course it helps that so much was captured by television and private cameras running that day. It will always be with us. Camelot was dead. We'd had a glimpse of how America could be at its best. It is a glimpse I am grateful for yet today. It reminds me that it is still possible. Yet and still.
“I think a good way to conceive of sacred space is as a playground. If what you’re doing seems like play, you are in it. But you can’t play with my toys, you have to have your own. Your life should have yielded some. Older people play with life experiences and realizations or with thoughts they like to entertain. In my case, I have books I like to read that don’t lead anywhere. One great thing about growing old is that nothing is going to lead to anything. Everything is of the moment” -- Joseph Campbell, "A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living"
A scared space as a playground? Yes. I read the above quote and it dawned on me that, yes, indeed, a sacred space should be a place where what you are doing seems like play. I'm not talking about frivolity. I mean, like Campbell describes, it is a playground where one can be happy and do the things the get the juices flowing and inspire the imagination and quell the fears and stresses of daily routine. Playgrounds, even if they are in your mind, are indeed sacred places and for that, we
The city of Vancouver has passed an ordinance that all new construction, including private homes, install levers on all doors rather than doorknobs. Imagine. A house with no doorknobs. I imagine that we would get used to it, but really, no doorknobs? Well, I do know it is not that big a deal. Levers actually are more usable for all people, especially those with physical disabilities. I also imagine it will make it a lot easier for dogs and even cats to open doors...maybe doors they shouldn't, but that's beside the point.
The potential of the demise of doorknobs (probably realistically not in any of our lifetimes) made me think about them as I never had before. And since this is a blog about things we are grateful for, I realized I am grateful for doorknobs...at least for things like doorknobs. I am grateful for the things that make our lives easier, better in some ways. How else would we open doors? With levers, I know. Or perhaps pulls. Or maybe just pushing them open and closed, lifting them up and out. Bottom line here, I am grateful, I suppose, not just for doorknobs, but for the ingenuity and inventiveness of humankind. Aren't we something?
So, yes, I am grateful for plain old ordinary brass, glass, wood or ceramic doorknobs. They may be ubiquitous, but an invention the creates a safer and more convenient life for us all, should be given its due. Thank goodness for doorknobs.
Here is a link to the article about the new ordinance in Vancouver for your information:
Sometimes I like not knowing. Suspense can be envigorating. It can bring people together as they speculate and even make wagers on whether it will be a girl or a boy. I think it was a sad day when doctors began revealing the sex of babies. And who wants to know what it going to happen tomorrow? And some mysteries are not meant to be resolved while we are alive. And life after death, well, that is a great mystery that we learn to have faith about. Whatever we believe it to be, we know it will be okay. And its all thanks to mystery.
Mystery is that which is not fully understood or that baffles or eludes the understanding; an enigma. And I can live with that. It is what makes life interesting.
I am grateful for food. I am truly blessed to live in a country where there is an abundance of food and I have the means to obtain whatever food I desire. That is indeed fortunate...even amazing...when you consider the alternatives. And while I am thankful, I also have some guilt about it.
As I had my evening treat, some delicious, creamy pecan pie style ice cream from Trader Joe's, I suddenly thought about some of those who may be going to bed hungry or malnurished tonight. It gave me pause. I had intended this to be a light entry in the 28 days. I was gonna go on about my ice cream obession, binges on potato chips and any kind of pie. I do eat lots of fruits, cereals, and vegetables. And that's just it. I do eat lots. To the point of not ever feeling excruciating hunger. Never have. Even as poor as we may have seemed as I was growing up, we never, ever went hungry. There was always food on the table.
So I am grateful for food and need to stop feeling guilty about it. I just need to do something about it. Food is something that feeds the body, comforts the soul and is meant to be shared. And share it I shall. Amen.
I function best with deadlines. Expectations from others are often great motivators. However it helps when the expectations are in line with my desires and ambitions. I guess what I treasure most is being held accountable for things I want to accomplish; not what others think I should accomplish. I know, that's a bit egocentric and maybe a little selfish. But then perhaps it is time. It is time to be accountable...to myself.
There's the rub. How do I hold myself accountable to myself when I know myself so well and can always find ways to make allowances or excuses. To be accountable, I guess others might need to be involved. Kind of like this blog. I think there are people out there reading this daily (or semi-daily or even occaisionally going on a binge catch up session) and so I think to myself, if I do not write this blog every day of the 28 days of my exploration of gratitude, then I will have failed.
That is accountability. That, then I why I grateful today (and every day) for the ever so personally defined manner of being held accountable. Amen.
Rob McMurray, self described muser extraodinaire.