I am sitting in a booth at Chuck E. Cheese while my grandsons play games and rack up coupons. It’s noisy just like it used to be when I took my sons to another one in California 30 years ago.
I am thinking about the grace and blessings that I’ve experienced in my life, but mostly the ones I never saw. Often it has been only as I look back into the past that I’ve seen God’s hand in my life. At the time, I’m afraid, I was way too preoccupied with how I looked and how I was being accepted to have noticed God. I was a captive of doubt about myself and anxiety about the future and they colored how I saw my life and everything.
How could I have been so blind? How could I not have seen how beautiful my life has been and how many people and things have blessed it.
I just couldn’t see the good through the smeared-up lenses through which I saw my life. I’ve seen the same crummy lenses in people throughout our country—they are focused on what they don’t have, not on what they do.
It’s about our culture and its focus on things. Those things, no matter what they are, will never satisfy the longing each of us has for love and a true home. Only God can do that. Through my lifetime I have seen the hunger for things grow in our culture and in myself and other people. When I was a child a second car was a rarity. Most families would have been happy with a dryer for the laundry rather than hanging out the clothes to dry. Homes were much smaller. The average house built after World War II was 900 sq. ft. And now? Greed for things is rampant.
There was more time for neighbors, for leisure. We’ve lost a lot in the years that I’ve witnessed as an adult, roughly from the early 1960’s to the teens of the 21st Century. The sense of community is one of the big losses. The rampant materialism is a huge gain. What does it say about us?
“If you’re worried and you can’t sleep
just count your blessings instead of sheep,
and you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings.”
Bing Crosby used to sing this song. And there is truth in the lyrics: counting your blessings will relax you, take your worries away, focus your attention on the source of all those blessings, God.
It’s actually a great daily practice to write down all the blessings and grace that God has sent you that day. Keep a gratitude journal. Do it at night before you go to bed. Look back on the day for the unmistakable handprint of God. Look for the ease in doing or saying something that you didn’t expect, look for a friend’s or colleague’s insistence on you reading this book or seeing that movie, look for the place where your negative expectations weren’t realized, where someone really saw you, heard you. Look for dreams or unexpected events. Listen for the “still, small voice within.”
What was God saying to you throughout your day? Did you hear him and heed what he said or did you brush it aside in your race to get onto the next best thing.
Notice the path as well as the goal. Register the smells, hear the natural sounds, catch the beauty. It will feed your soul. Look for resonance inside you in what someone says or in what you read. Be alive as you live life. Be attentive to the deeper messages. STOP on the way. LOOK around and see what is there. LISTEN hard to what is being said.
Be grateful. Be inspired, connected to the wonderful, natural world.
Don’t brush off life as if it’s not worthy of attention. It’s strange and funny, isn’t it, that it’s the small stuff that feeds us, sustains us, brings us joy. So, if you trip on a root, thank the Lord for the chance to see what is there, to sit for a moment while you massage your ankle, to bask in the glorious day. If you’re dragging through the day, just take a minute or two to relax, to close your eyes, to relieve the tiredness. If you’re beating up on yourself, step back from those thoughts, become an observer of them. Look for the stressor that triggered your self-loathing. Do what you can to fix what is causing the stress.
“Stop, look, listen to your heart” is a song written by Tom Bell about love. It applies to living, too. Don’t let life pass you by in your hurry to get somewhere else. Be here. Be present. Take in what is being offered to you. Look deeply into the person before you. See the invitation that God is handing to you to live fully, to love greatly and to be who you truly are.
Questions to ponder over the week: How aware am of I of God’s blessings and grace every day? Do I pay attention to what he sends me and fill with gratitude? Or do I brush it aside, because it wasn’t what I expected or wanted at the time?
This week’s blessing: May we see/experience/feel/hear all that God is doing in our lives today. May we live in gratitude and love and peace. May our lives demonstrate God’s love and joy and peace. In faith and love, Pat
If you’d like to see more of By the Waters, check these out:
–There’s a new video up on YouTube: “Jesus’ Two Great Commandments” youtu,be/xXnQnWljpZ8 and five others.
–Check out my twitter feed at twitter.com/BTWwithPatAdams
–Go to bythewaters.net/offerings which features a CD of guided meditations designed to help deepen your spiritual life and a series of booklets on the Life of the Spirit.