Since writing this post a year and a half ago, I’ve penned another 1000+ things for which I’m thankful; I’m re-running this post because reading it reminded me again why the list matters, why numbering it is helpful, why I need to keep writing down the gifts and graces of my life (hint: it has something to do with remembering and the fact that I have amnesia of the soul…)
Two weeks ago, I wrote item number 2000 on my gratitude list. I wish I could say it was a momentous item, something worthy of being number 2000. It wasn’t.
1997. A long lunch with a friend, sans kids.
1999. A sunny afternoon in the back yard.
(drum roll, please)
Hopscotch? That’s the best I could come up with? Really?
Suffice it to say, the whole hitting 2000 thing was rather anticlimactic. I felt vaguely disappointed, as if I had somehow missed an opportunity to create meaning in my life by choosing the perfect thing to write down next to that big round number.
Of course, I had no idea what that perfect thing would be. Nothing big enough, meaningful enough, special enough seemed forthcoming. I could have written down one of the kids’ names, but which one? I could have written the generic “my children,” but that seemed contrived. As did “my husband,” “my health,” and “my church.” So I ended up just writing the next thing that came to mind.
But later I realized that writing down the next thing that came to mind, however mundane and seemingly meaningless, was precisely the right thing. Isn’t that the whole point of this gratitude list in the first place? To see the glory and the grace in every moment, in each small thing?
That’s why all those “big” things I thought of writing down next to the 2000 didn’t work – they were too amorphous, too generalized to really be meaningful. It’s easy to say, “Thank you God for all the blessings of my life,” and then not bother to actually notice what those blessings are. Yeah, I’m grateful for my husband and my health and my church. Of course I am. But it’s so much richer to say why. Like God, gratitude is in the details.
Hence, hopscotch. Marking the sidewalk with pink and yellow chalk, writing in the numbers, tossing the pebble, hopping on one foot, landing on two, laughing with the kids when I wobble and bobble while reaching for the pebble – the meaning of life is in these little details. Or maybe it’s more that a meaningful life emerges when we pay attention to the details.
It turns out that the real value of that number 2000 isn’t in the number itself. It’s in the accumulation of seen graces that have led up to it.
The number is just a tag, a way for me to keep track so I can see at a glance just how blessed my life is, and it matters only because it reveals to me the incredible riches of my life, the many gifts I receive each and every day.
2001. Happy, exploring babies covered in dust and chalk.
2002. Books I’ve requested on hold at the library.
2003. The sometimes severe gift of tears.
2004. After eight months, my lost fountain pen—found!
2005. Jack and Ben asleep in my bed, Jack’s arm under Ben’s head.
2006. Luke and Ben banging on the living room window.
2008. The boys playing peek-a-boo under the bee chair—and cracking each other up.
2009. New-to-me books.
2011. Clean sheets.
2012. My mom and dad here for a visit.
2013. Biscuity perfection with my tea this morning.
And the list goes on…
–an edited repost from the archives
Your turn: What are you thankful for?
Please list three or four (or ten!) things for which you’re grateful down in the comment box. Let’s lift up a hymn of grateful praise to the Giver of all good gifts.
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Linking today with Ann Voskamp, who inspired the gift list in the first place.