Actually, I wasn’t away, but all day yesterday, MSN’s servers were down, and I couldn’t get online to write this blog. Like many things, large and small, that are suddenly taken away, this gave me a real appreciation for MSN’s normal efficiency!
My thoughts have been taking a more grateful turn lately–and I am normally a grateful person, anyway. Every day, at the end of my Morning Pages, I list at least five things I’m thankful for, and I’ve been doing that for a long time. Still, seeing the ravages of the hurricanes made me even more aware of how blessed me are, those of us still going about our ordinary days. And how precious are those ordinary days! The victims of the recent storms must yearn, often and poignantly, for the things and people they may have taken for granted, at least part of the time.
The other day, I visited the supermarket. It was the weekend, and I wanted to cook a little—for the dogs and for myself. So I drove to the store, with a list in hand. I’ve gone grocery shopping a million times, haven’t you? It’s definitely ordinary–especially in America. So I walk in, and maybe for the first time, I really see the wonder of it. Flowers, blooming like a garden in the corner by the main entrance. Fruits and vegetables so colorful and so varied that a half-wit could write stirring poetry about them. Milk and butter and magazines, shampoo and deodorant, all manner of wonderfully ordinary things.
I’m not proud of this, but I’ve often griped about shopping for food. I’d made it into a chore, a big production, a drama, and there were so many things I’d rather have been doing. But on this bright Saturday morning, I suddenly wanted to weep with gratitude! I felt as though I’d walked right into a giant cornucopia. Such abundance, such quality, such choice. I couldn’t help thinking how I’d miss this thing I had never properly appreciated, if it were suddenly gone. I had my own personal Thanksgiving that day, and it’s still with me.
We often act, I think, as if we are entitled to these luxuries. As if they are somehow our due. What, you don’t carry my brand of yogurt? These prices are highway robbery! Why is that woman taking forever and a day to get change out of her purse and holding up the line? Don’t these people know I have things to do?
In all these attitudes, there are points of change, opportunities to choose again, reasons to be thankful instead of grouchy. There are probably half a dozen other brands of yogurt, if not more. Most of us can afford to pay the prices, and when you consider all the steps involved in getting a box of detergent, for example, from the factory to the shelf, it’s not so bad. And the woman holding up the line? Well, this is an occasion for her, since she doesn’t get out so much anymore–she’s been through the Depression, maybe, and she’s got to watch her pennies. Nothing I have to do after I leave that store is more important than kindness or patience. I’m not going to tap my foot or look impatiently at my watch. I’m going to stand there and be grateful that, for some unknown reason, I am among the blessed. It may not always be so, for we are all subject to disaster, not just those people in those other states. I believe there’s a purpose and a plan to it all. I also believe that God loves us all equally, and none of us are exempt from calamity. This is earth, not heaven. The suddenly homeless, the lost and separated, well, any one of us could find ourselves in their midst, at any time.
We don’t need to be afraid. We DO need to be grateful. We need to be generous.
What are you thankful for?