The Thousand Gifts
It is the beginning of the list season: lists of menus, lists of hand-made projects, lists of addresses, lists of baking goodies … lists of gifts.
I too begin… but only, currently, one list: A List of a Thousand Things, beginning with #1. I am daily jotting down items on my Thousand Gifts List, working, one-by-one, up to a thousand gifts. Not of gifts I want. But of gifts I have.
As the moments slip down the hour glass of time, I am scratching down the gifts—just as they happen, as they arrive, as they are unwrapped—that He has given that make my life grace, the daily graces that He gives in an infinite number of ways, that stir me.
“…windmills lazying in twilight’s last breeze…. soft wool sweaters with turtle neck collars…. the faint smell of cattle and straw….”
I am seeing things I have never seen before, atuned and aware of this constant, endless stream of gifts from His hand. I am one waking from slumber….from the stupor of indifference and ignorance. I have sight, fresh and keen—the world is new and full of His gifts.
Too often I miss Him, oblivious, blind. I don’t see all the good things that He is giving me, gracing me with, brushing my life with. True, He is everywhere, always. But maybe, before The Gift List, I thought of Him as further off, not so close. When I started to see all the things that I love bestowed upon me, I started to see Him as near, present, everywhere, showering me with good things. Seeing the things I love all around me gives me eyes to see that I am loved, that He loves me.
It is happening to me as John Milton wrote: “Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.”
Everyday epiphanies everywhere, indeed: gifts….Grace.
“… the smell of the florist’s… the sound of kernels of corn streaming, tinkling…. leaves floating in puddles…” Just writing them down as they happen.
Yet my list is different than another’s for a reason: God has made me uniquely me. The Gift List is about gratitude… but it is more. It is about what defines me and my own personal identity. Reflecting on The Thousand Gifts List… “…cracking open a new book… pushing children on the swing…. old men looking at cards in the stationery aisle…” I am thankful for the things on it, yes, but I am also thankful that He has given the gift of me; that God made me who I am and I am one who sees and experiences the world in a way uniquely her own. The Thousand Gifts list is about the gifts Abba gives this child every day… and, ultimately, about the very gift of self, life as I know it.
George MacDonald wrote, “No gift unrecognized as coming from God is at its own best…when in all gifts we find Him, then in Him we shall find all things.”
It is the season of lists. Care to begin a list of a Thousand Gifts? You’ll find Him in all things—the very best gift of all.
Father, You are the Giver of all Good Gifts. They are everywhere. I can hardly jot them down fast enough. How You love.
Will you too begin your list of a Thousand Gifts? It will change your life. Guaranteed.
At the end of the 10 weeks, participants who’d kept a gratitude journal felt better about their lives as a whole and were more optimistic about the future than participants in either of the other two conditions. To put it into numbers, according to the scale we used to calculate well-being, they were a full 25 percent happier than the other participants. Those in the gratitude condition reported fewer health complaints.
People who kept a gratitude journal reported feeling more joyful, enthusiastic, interested, attentive, energetic, excited, determined, and strong than those in the hassles condition. They also reported offering others more emotional support or help with a personal problem— supporting the notion that gratitude motivates people to do good. And this was not limited to what they said about themselves. We sent surveys to people who knew them well, and these significant others rated participants in the gratitude group as more helpful than those in the other groups.
Over the last two years, I’ve listed over Thousand Gifts….and still continue.
It’s not an overstatement to say that little has changed my life so dramatically.
And hundreds of others who have also began their own 1000 Gift Lists agree.
I’d love to read items of your Thousand Gifts. Care to join the Gratitude Community? Just grab a scrap of paper lying around and begin counting the blessings: (Drop me a line if you do, and I’ll add either your name or a web link to the Gratitude Community.)
(And yes, feel free to use this graphic for your own posts… Let’s Give Thank to He Who Gives and Gives and GIVES!)