I wrote a post last week about all the things I haven’t done this year.
Among them, but forgotten at the time of the post, was keeping up with the Ten Things of Thankful blog hop. For a long time, I faithfully made my weekly gratitude list. The practice of focusing on the good in my life and connecting with the people in the TToT community were a great source of comfort and positivity for me during a long stretch of frustration and change. Keeping my eye on the blessings in my life, rather than the sufferings, was crucial to my ability to keep moving forward.
Over a period of months, I found my participation more sporadic until I eventually stopped pretending I was going to get my list made and shared. Maybe the timing wasn’t good. Maybe I was preoccupied with other things, busy taking care of life. Maybe my heart just wasn’t in it and the lists felt forced, repetitive, and stale. I honestly don’t know. But as often happens with even the best-laid plans and intentions, my habit of making a weekly gratitude list fell by the wayside.
This year has been one filled with challenges and disappointments, two coming our way most recently right before Christmas. What a great way to start off the holiday. I can be honest and say that I have spent some time this year being angry and frustrated and hurt. I have held those emotions close, and I have also broadcast them loudly. I have prayed and hoped, and I have also given up on prayer and hope, only to return to both time and time again.
While I have not participated in the weekly “thankful” lists for quite some time, I absolutely do remain truly thankful for the blessings in my life. While things have not necessarily gone as I might have liked over the last many months, I know every day that I have much for which I can be thankful. Life. Health. Home. Family. Love. From each of these springs a list of many more specific and perhaps seemingly insignificant things, but all of which are indeed blessings. I am painfully aware that no matter what the challenges in my life, there are so many in the world, both near and far from me, who are unable to count such things as blessings. But as I see the news and watch what goes on in our world, I am frequently reminded that even those who experience massive tragedy and suffering in their lives are so often still able to find something for which to be grateful and hopeful. Perhaps that is what keeps me mindful of what I have, and aware of the fact that even in the midst of tragedy and sadness, there still springs hope.
I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, actually. I recently read a post by a blogger friend, Cheryl Oreglia, who writes at Living in the Gap. In her post, Cheryl reflected on the secret of Advent. At the conclusion, she said, “The present darkness is not death, it is a womb.” Those words have stayed with me since reading them and they have had a profound effect on me. While life may sometimes seem bleak and darkness may seem to hover too close for too long, there is light in the days that follow. Perhaps it does not come immediately, and perhaps it is not easily recognized at first, but it is there. It is easy to associate darkness with death. A child waiting in her mother’s womb knows only darkness. But after that darkness – and likely some suffering along the way – what awaits on the other side of that womb is light and life and love.
And so as I sit here this morning watching the sun take its place in the sky, I am thankful for the recognizable gifts in my life. I will continue to work toward recognizing that the current darkness – whatever that may be – is temporary, and even necessary.
My wish for all of us in the days ahead is peace in our hearts and a profound sense of hope.
This week I am joining the Ten Things of Thankful group. Follow the link here to connect with them and share your own gratitude list.