Yesterday it started raining sheets. The water started chasing down the rivulets of our roof and running off. My husband and I looked at each other in a kind of horror because we knew this would spell trouble. I ached when I looked at the forecast. Rain all week.
Believe me, I know there are lots of reasons to be grateful for rain. I live in California's Central Valley, where most of our country's produce is grown. I understand that rain seeping into rich dark soil and urging seeds to sprout is a gift. The farmers step back to breathe and the earth does her thing. God pours water into that thirsty soul.
A friend reminded me that rain cleans the air. There is all this talk now of radioactive air drifting across the Pacific from Japan. The authorities tell us not to worry. But when you live in on the Left Coast, we know we are not so far removed from natural disasters. God sends the rain. He cleans the manmade filth in His own way.
Still, I watch water run down roofs and I worry. The drywall's already busted through once in our bedroom. How will holes in my ceiling help us sell this house? How will water dripping down move us forward on our journey to Haiti?
We spent 20 hours from Sunday to Monday without electricity. Someone plowed into a power pole down the block and the lights blinked out for a host of families here in Fresno. My temptation? To complain. Prescription: put on more layers of clothes, declare it indoor camping, offer up thanks. We are thankful we have a roof over our heads at all when so many in Haiti are still living in tents. We are thankful that a few hours without electricity equals an inconvenience, an adventure even, not a way of life.
I'm creating habits, rhythms of gratitude in my house. For 49 days, we have been counting gifts.
342. stash of candles and matches
343. the way Nana always has a ready-made meal frozen for visitors (family) just like her mama before her
345. iPhone flashlight
346. live phone coverage of March Madness basketball on our phones (seriously!)
347. down comforter
348. optimism of a 4-year-old always-eager for an adventure
I read this in Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts - a quote from Sarah Ban Breathnach: "Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world."
This act of numbering gifts, graces. This list I've been creating in my journal, sharing with friends, is not about stuffing it down. I have learned that it doesn't help to just put a positive spin on the hard parts of life. We need to dig through the soil, unearth the painful shards of glass and see the beauty in that traveled journey. I need to be truly thankful if I consider something a gift.
Some might misunderstand. They might see our daily list on Facebook or Twitter and think it's easy for us. They might think this is about my grateful sunshine personality. Or the birthright of my husband oft-called "blessed boy." But it's truly the birthright of anyone who chooses to believe that thanksgiving always precedes the miracle.
I dare you to number your gifts. Try it. See what happens if you put pen to paper and record those "everyday epiphanies." Before you know it you will be...letting... go..... of all that brings stress, harsh words, panic attacks, pride, guilt. Now I am letting go of temptation to worry and embracing this new gift.
349. This leaky roof that reminds me Who has it all under control.
"I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret to living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little." - Philippians 4:11-12