“Help! Thanks! Wow!”

Mar 11, 2013

Recent snapshots that delight: four turkeys waddling up the road, then turning right and sauntering out of view; a pair of bluebirds at my feeder—a first this year;  Identifying a warbler high in a tree through binoculars; standing on the berm near the cabin with a glass of wine in my hands watching the 45 minute spectacle of the sunset unfold; being down at the creek yesterday with my daughter’s family. Wow!

       I have been reading Anne Lamott’s newest book: Help! Thanks! Wow!  I so agree with her idea that these are the three prayers we say to God.  Wow, for me, so often comes from time spent outside. The stunning beauty of nature, even in its barest season overwhelms me. As an adult I have forgotten how much I loved being outside when I was a girl. You know, I have few memories of how awful the humidity and heat were in the Louisville summers. I only remember how much joy there was in play, in the huge field behind our house, in my neighborhood friends, Martha and Johnny. In the summer evenings after dinner a whole gang of us would play hide and seek or capture the flag in the Kaiser’s extra lot.  Today I have to remember to go outside, not just for exercise but for the joy of fresh air, the interesting trees I saw yesterday down at the creek, and, for me always, the birds.

       One day in mid-February, It was 66 degrees and the Greenway a block from my house was filled with adults, small children, dogs, also remembering how great it feels to be outside. I was down by the creek twice yesterday, soaking in the beauty. I may have to push myself out of the house these days, but at least I am remembering how much better I feel afterwards.

       As for HELP! The most help I need is in allowing the not-so-great parts of me to be, in embracing my own complaining nature, in dealing with my not-so-grateful moments. If I were to sum up my prayers for HELP! Then I would say that the help I need is in negotiating between my divine nature and my human nature, in my longing to live totally out of the divine. I also pray prayers like this: “What were you thinking, Lord, when you sent ‘this’ into my life? Or “Lord, you’ll have to make these two things work, because I can’t see how they could both be done!” Help!

       THANKS! is an easy prayer for me. I know that gratitude is the bedrock of the Life of the Spirit. I have kept a daily gratitude journal for 2 ½ years. I suspect that gratitude is the rock-bottom basis of a life of the spirit. Without gratitude what really do we have to say to God? How can we say we love God if we’re not grateful for the life given to us? Without a grateful heart how can we accept anything graciously? How can we complain and carp and hold on to our own way, when we say we love God above all? Gratitude is where it’s at, as they used to say. Anything less than gratitude is self-serving.

       “HELP! THANKS! WOW!” says it all. 

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