"Thank you" isn't an unfamiliar phrase in my vocabulary. My parents taught it to me when I was young, along with "please," "excuse me," and "I'm sorry." "Thank you" is easy to say. I have said it often, felt it often, thought it often. I take "thank you" for granted.
I am reading a book called "One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are," by Ann Voskamp. This isn't an easy fiction read like I am usually drawn to. I'm only part way into it, but already I highly recommend it. Instead of being taken away by a novel's story, I'm seeing my own story in a different light.
"Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world."
Sarah Ban Breathnach
This morning I was reading the book, a chapter delving into thankfulness, when my 6 year old daughter came down the stairs. It was 7:02am. Her hair was in a dither and her eyes were scrunched as they decided between sleep and the lightness of day. Her groggy voice said, "I slept right 'till seven." She has always been our clock-work kid with her self-imposed schedules.
She came close to my chair to look at the book in my hand.
"I'm reading about thankfulness. What are you thankful for?" I asked her, curious about her answer.
Without hesitation she said, "I'm thankful for my mom and dad."
"And I'm thankful for you." I said it with a smile while looking right into her eyes. Instead of looking down shyly like I was sure she would, she stared hard at me. Her eyes asked, "Really? Do you mean it?" It had been too long since our conversations revolved around more than instructions and reprimands.
And I responded back, "With all my heart, down to my toes. My socks are knocked off with how thankful I am for you." Her smile of confidence told me more than words could ever say. She felt safe. She felt love.
"What else?" I probed.
"My brother and sister."
"I'm thankful for our warm house," I said from my snug position near the toasty wood stove. We were off and running on this game of thankfulness.
"I am thankful for the night." She said looking out the window beside us into the darkness. I pointed to the other window across the room where light was pushing through on the horizon.
"I'm thankful for the new day," I said.
It was her turn now and she excitedly said, "I'm thankful for Christmas. But not because of the presents, but because of Jesus' birthday and we get to have a party. Jesus came to save us."
Where did that come from? It's February. But I loved hearing about what was on her heart. What she thinks about. She has never been a communicator. She started speaking sentences at about 4 years old and even now she doesn't share a lot with me. She thinks a lot, I often see her quick mind working. This sneak peek was beautiful.
There in the glow of a new day's sunrise I felt thankful. Really thankful. Most of my life I've felt thankfulness like an aura around me. Like the temperature of a room, sure to cool at the slightest upset. The "thankful feeling" would fade with the draft of everyday craziness.
Ann Voskamp says in the book, "We only enter into the full life if our faith gives thanks. Because how else do we accept His free gift of salvation if not with thanksgiving? Thanksgiving is the evidence of our acceptance of whatever He gives. Thanksgiving is the manifestation of our Yes! to his grace."
This thankfulness I felt this morning was different. Through my reading, reflecting on the Scripture woven through "One Thousand Gifts," and the short conversation with my sweet daughter, I began to realize I had a lot to learn about being thankful. True gratitude for every single thing is lasting, unlike the passing feeling. This thankfulness that settled over me was like putting on a cozy sweater. No matter if things got crazy and the aura faded in the cool draft, the warmth would be with me all day.