Thursday, November 21, 2013

Overflow of Thanks

I love Thanksgiving.  It marks the beginning of all things "holiday".  I love the lighting of Christmas lights downtown on Wednesday night, the day of family and food on Thursday, and 12 blissful hours of shopping, and just being, with my mom on Friday.  But my favorite part of Thanksgiving has become the counting of blessings.  The focus on gratitude.  The intentional listing of both great and small.  This has become my joy.

The simple act of choosing thanks can transform perspective.  The hardest of thanks can lift a spirit out of the trenches that engulf.  And while I cannot begin to explain this phenomenon as eloquently as Ann Voskamp has in One Thousand Gifts, I have been profoundly changed by it's reach.  For more than five months, I have been marinating in these lessons of gratitude and working to find grace in the hard.  And then yesterday, she spoke straight to my heart.
"If I close these fingers, try to hold, hoard the river - dam up the grace- won't the water grow stagnant? Long the children and I once looked at photos of the dead Dead Sea, and we read how the Jordan River streams into the sea and nothing flows out of the sea and the salt content rises and everything dies.  I think of this.  That fullness grows foul.  Grace is alive, living waters. If I dam up the grace, hold the blessings tight, joy within dies...waters that have no life."
The grace that flows through our blessings is not ours to hoard. That fullness can rot.  In order to live, we must give.  If we stop with thankfulness, we lose our breath.  Like the Dead Sea, we cannot  keep life.  This grace must flow from us.  The blessings stir action.  But here's the catch.  Action is messy.  Service is uncomfortable.  And (gasp) it may not be in your top three spiritual gifts.  Do it anyway!  Rearrange your schedule, buy groceries, change a diaper, go out of your way, wait on someone, get messy.

Opportunities to serve seldom arrive when your fridge is full, your schedule empty, and your patience abounding.  While we are not called to do everything, we are called to do something.  And chances are, if an opportunity falls in your lap, it's yours.  So this Thanksgiving, let's follow gratitude with action.  Let's get a little dirty and slightly uncomfortable.  The reward is bound to outweigh the cost.