Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transparent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. ~ Sara Ban Breathnach

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Week VI - Day 5 - The Cup of Thanksgiving

Lee Smith
I am nearly at the end of this journey with Joyce and she introduces me to yet one more spiritual teacher! Lee Smith, author of Fair and Tender Ladies writes:
"For all of a sudden when I saw those lights, I said to myself, Ivy, this is your life, this is your real life, and you are living it. Your life is not going to start later. This is it, it is now. It's funny how a person can be so busy that they forget this is it. This is my life."
Helen Keller 1880 - 1968
~ ~ ~ sigh ~ ~ ~ Some mornings it takes courage to continue reading when the quote at the beginning of the devotion hits me smack in the face!  At the same time, I am curious where Joyce is going following such a lead in. Today, she tells of another woman's, Jean Houston, story after going to hear Helen Keller speak when she, Houston, was still very young. Houston was moved to speak to Helen and made her way toward her until she was face to face with Helen Keller. Houston described the experience saying,
"She read my whole face and I blurted out: 'Miss Keller, why are you so happy?' and she laughed and laughed, saying: 'My child, it is because I live each day as if it were my last and and life, with all its moments, is so full of glory." (Joyce Rupp, The Cup of Life, p 145)
Oh my.... Yesterday afternoon, driving home from work I had a great conversation with my Mom on Disguised Blessings.  She told of a life long friend she visits in a nursing home who is helpless with Parkinson's disease. For many years, John, Lavern's husband had cared for her at home.  A few years ago her care became to difficult and the decision was made to move Lavern into a nearby nursing home.  Sadly, John's health was fading and he ended up in the same facility where he died not long after. My mother's friend is completely helpless, yet Mom reports that her face is serene and that she is full of peace.

"What gives her that peace, Mom? Is it her faith?"

"I don't know, I'm sure she would say it is her faith, but I struggle to find a blessing within her circumstances."

After a moment's pause I asked, "Are you blessed by Lavern, Mom? I know you go to visit in order to bless her, but are you also being blessed?"

Another pause..."I think Lavern blesses everyone who comes into her room to care for her. They all love her. But still..."

Thinking back to that conversation and reading Jean's account of Helen Keller, I wonder if somehow, even though she is held hostage in a body that does not respond...I wonder if Lavern sees each day of her life as moments full of glory?
We zoom through life, missing moments of wonder and awe.
"It is amazing, isn't it, how we can miss so much of life? The key to gratitude is surprise. When we lose our sensitivity to wonder and awe, when we simply trudge or zoom through the days, we can so easily miss the daily gifts of life. When we awaken to what is within us and around us, when we savor, relish, and taste life fresh each day, our heart holds much more gratitude for our blessings." (Rupp, p 146)
Andrew Harvey
Andrew Harvey, the author of The Way of Passion writes that if we were really looking at this world, we would be moved a hundred times a day by the flowers at the side of the road, the people we meet, by all that brings us messages of our own goodness and the goodness of all things.

"To be grateful is to affirm goodness wherever we find it. The problem with being grateful is not the lack of countless blessings, the problem is with being inattentive and unaware of these blessings." (Ibid)

Is this ever a lead in for my next book, A Tree Full of Angels - Seeing the Holy in the Ordinary! A few days ago I picked up a book on one of the end racks at Barnes and Noble, the Attitudes of Gratitude by M.J. Ryan. I was with one of my grandkids, heading back to the children's area...not looking for a San book. It was eye level with my granddaughter.  Walking by, she stopped, picked it up and handed it to me...and walked on! I began to put it back, but then decided maybe I ought to pay attention, just in case it was Grace nudging her to nudge me.  I haven't opened it yet, but I suspect I may be using it in the weeks to come.  I have kept a gratitude journal in the past, and it did make me more aware of the God Winks during an ordinary day.
"One practice that has helped to reawaken my gratitude when my thankfulness has grown lean is to take one of my five external senses each day and be attentive to it. One day I notice all the sounds that I hear; another day I pay close attention to everything I see, etc. Doing this helps me to move out of my tired approach to life. I restore my alertness to my daily gifts and begin again to see the universe as one vast blessing." (Ibid)
Then the final wham of this day's devotion:
"Are you living your life right now?   Or are you still waiting for it to happen?"
Breathing in: Alive aware...
Breathing out: ...thank you, thank you

Reflection: (Using your five external senses to lead you to gratitude)
Listen - Smell - Look - Touch - Taste
Take your cup and place a favorite beverage in it.
Listen to the sound of the liquid as you pour.
Take the cup and smell the beverage.
Look at the liquid, the color, fluidity, etc.
Feel the liquid in the cup.
Drink it very, very slowly. Taste it fully.
Be aware of the blessings of your five sense.
Give thanks.

Scripture: Psalm 116:12-19; Luke 22:14-23
What return shall I make to God for all God's bounty to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of God (Ps 116:12-13)
Then Jesus took the cup and gave thanks... (Lk 22:17)

I am most alert to my daily blessings when...
Something for which I am grateful, but rarely give thanks:
Thank you, Bountiful One,...

I am most alert to my daily blessings when...I am rested.  I have been practicing spiritual disciplines that "wake" me up and give me a sense of inner balance. I am more alert to my daily blessings when I know I will either share with others or will write in a journal at the end of the day.

Normally, when I am tired, rushing from one thing to would take a blessing to literally knock me up the side of the head...but when I am "living" from this state....I might still not recognize the blessing!

Something for which I am grateful, but rarely give thanks:  I think just an ordinary day!  Today, I did not finish my journaling this morning as I planned because I remembered I had two soccer games to get two different locations! I got ready and headed out.  After my grandson's game, he accompanied me to my granddaughter's game.  After her game I took both of them to a nearby town to look for a few garage sales, go to McDonald's Playland (yuk!), Barnes and Noble, then home...

They would tell you they had a good day, but sitting here this evening, I am not sure how present I truly was.  Partly, I am tired.  Being tired is the story of my life with this body of mine.  Yet, I know there were moments my mind was drifting and I was thinking about the week to come, how I can make it to more of their games, when/how will they get home... And, when I am "there", I was not present in that moment.  I take for granted we will have many more moments instead of unwrapping the gift of those moments and being present with all five of my senses.

Sigh.... It seems so hard to be present, yet, I know it is worth the effort.  I know that within the moments of this life that I step through...I am missing God Moments after God Moments.

I thank you, God, with my whole heart,
I will tell of your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you.
I will sing to you for you have dealt bountifully with me.
Your steadfast love endures forever.

Tomorrow: (since it is already late....)
I will live this day as if it was my last.

Wow...I know I would have lived this day very differently if I had lived it as though it was my last.

I am thinking this reminder might not be a bad thing to tape to my monitor.  I want to live my life this way, because I know when I strive to do so...I will be truly "living" this life.  God help me....

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

1 comment:

  1. I thought the message in the devotion for today was very clear about living life, not waiting to live life. I desire to savor each moment, not just drudge through it to "survive" to get to the next event. I need to begin today, not say...when I have time I will begin to LIVE.

    It is time for me to "be present" in the life that God has given me and in the circumstances that surround me. Thank you again for this journey.