Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Breathe {inspiration for Wednesdays}

Today, many people around the world will be marked with a simple mixture of ashes and oil.  A cross placed on the forehead reminds them of their mortality - "remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return" - and the promise of a new life in Christ.  Today, for many, the markings begin a 40 day journey of the soul - inquisitive about its condition, seeking transformation.

Whether you will be "marked" today or not; whether this cross is even part of your belief system, I think journeys of the soul are good for us.  They help us see what needs to leave, what needs to stay, and what practices need to be added.  Plus, we all, at one time or another, come to a place where we think about death...and therefore about how we want to live.

Over the next 40 days, I plan to take journey of the soul and practice living more fully right where I am.

I am reading a book right now called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  I've just started the book, but have been super challenged by a premise she puts forward in the first few chapters....We live with books all around us trying to tell us how to live a more full life - books like 1000 Places to See Before You Die.  Those books are not bad (and truly, I would be the first to sign up to go see those 1000 places!!) but they subtly teach us that LIFE is to be found outside and in a different place than we now dwell.  Voskamp asks the questions, "Isn't it here?  Can't I find it here? The wonder?  Why do I spend so much of my living hours struggling to see it?...Who has time or eyes to notice?"

Her answer emerges, "The only place we need to see before we die is this place of seeing God, here and now."

She then responds to a dare from a friend, which will become my dare for the next 40 days as well...could she write a list of 1000 things she loves?  One thousand GIFTS that are all around her everyday, but she doesn't have time to notice?  A list of gifts...."not the gifts I want but of the gifts I already have".

And so this dare not given to me, becomes mine.  It becomes mine and my family's.  We will spend this Lenten season (the next 40 days) looking, seeing, finding gifts that are all around us...and writing them down to remind ourselves.  The preparations for this journey have been made...I took all the pictures off my fridge and put butcher paper up on both sides.  Across the top, I wrote 1000 Gifts.  (I chose the fridge because NO ONE in my family can miss the fridge!  We all use it multiple times a day and therefore our "1000 Gifts" will be in front of us multiple times a day!)  

I figure that for a family of 4 over the course of 40 days, we each need to come up with 6.25 "gifts" - blessings we see and are grateful for - per day.  Surely we can do that!  Do I not think there are more than 7 wonderful things in the course of my day?  And these gifts that we see do not have to be huge...they can be small enjoyments like sunshine coming through a window, or a fuzzy brown blanket that keeps me warm in the chilly air.  The point is to SEE the gifts, write them down and give thanks. 

I don't know what my fridge will look like at the end of this journey, but I do think our souls and hearts will look different. Voskamp notices that the in these common things "maybe I don't even know they are gifts until I write them down and that is really what they look like.  Gifts God bestows.  This writing it down - it is sort of like....unwrapping love."

Wouldn't we all like 40 days of unwrapping love?  Maybe you would like to join me in this journey of gratitude.  Maybe you will use a journal or post-it notes or some other creative medium I can't even fathom.  Maybe you would never be marked with a cross of ashes, but surely we can all learn to be marked with an attitude of thankfulness!

Breathe, smile and go slowly.

1 comment:

Lisa Lombardo said...

Such an inspiration you are, my friend. I admire your quest to be so present in the moments of your life. 1000 gifts in 40 days...a journey I will gladly take. Thank you!