Thursday, May 7, 2015
Believing in Blessings
At the start of the year, I began a new early morning ritual. Rather than listen to NPR or music on my way to work, I turned off the noise and started counting my blessings. Now to be honest, this is difficult some mornings. Most days I get up at 4:00 AM to write before going to my teaching job. By the time I leave for work at 6:30, I am bleary-eyed and not feeling grateful exactly.
While I love NPR and regularly read/watch the news, too many sad stories so early in the morning left me anxious and tense. So, I stopped listening and started counting.
First on my list? Um…body lotion. That's right. Out loud I say to God, "Thank you for body lotion." Sometimes I include Dove soap and Diet Coke and cinnamon raisin toast, too. This isn't where I start every morning, mind you. I've started with a book I'm reading or an especially good night's sleep or getting some task I've been dreading behind me. Once I thanked God for my hoop earrings. I love hoop earrings.
I don't think God minds my quirky prayers. Maybe He finds me weird or funny? Anyway, I move on from these silly things, of course, and list the more important blessings, like my girls and my husband and my dogs. I try to be very specific. I don't know why being specific feels important, but I say my children's names, and I list certain kinds of flowers or trees.
A few weeks ago, I spent the first three miles of my commute being thankful for my grandparents. Now my grandparents have been gone from this world a very long time, but I'm not sure I had ever thanked God so sincerely for giving them to me in the first place. This prayer made me weep, but it felt good, like Granny and Cogy and Grandmother and Granddaddy were right there in the car with me.
Just yesterday I caught a peek at the moon early in the morning. As I glanced out the bathroom window, a cloud passed in front of it. Yep, that went on the blessing list. It was a gift to catch that wisp of a cloud on its journey. I've thanked God for the radiance of light on the water, for cardinals on my bird feeder, for Fit Flops, lunch meat, and good poets.
My blessing list doesn't solve my problems. It doesn't make me glide through my day with any greater patience or forbearance. But it does make me feel in touch with God and with myself for a few minutes at least. And if we are too distant from ourselves, can we be close to God anyway?
At the end of my prayer, I ask for forgiveness for my many shortcomings. I ask for strength and protection. I also ask God for the things I want in life: a new book in print (it's been five years since Penguin published my last one) and guidance about certain work dilemmas and help with raising teenagers while also working with teenagers.
A few weeks ago, one of my friends posted this Bible verse on her Facebook page: Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:24
Life is tricky and hard and messy and inconvenient. This modern life involves too much running around and not enough time to get my head on straight, and this is what I'm working to change, one little blessing at a time.
P.S. God, I am really thankful good blogger friends and for throw pillows. There is really nothing quite like a cute throw pillow.