Shared Hope: Be grateful for the small things amid tough times
“Raindrops on roses, and whiskers on kittens,
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens,
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings,
These are a few of my favorite things.”
These beautiful images are lyrics from the Broadway show and movie "The Sound of Music."
I got to play "Maria" in that show twice and sing the exceptional songs by Rodgers and Hammerstein. Even when the schedule of eight shows a week seemed grueling, I never felt weary. The story and music constantly lifted me up with songs such as “My Favorite Things.” Can’t you just see those images of the ordinary revealed as extraordinary?
This past week of brutal cold was such a slap in the face. We’ve endured so much already with this time of crisis, grief and global pandemic. Could it lead to an increased value of small things?
So much was stripped away during enforced hibernation, but it revealed my appreciation for ordinary precious things — a sunny day, a dog’s welcome, a warm home, the smell of coffee, my friends’ laughter on Zoom, electricity, the taste of a perfect blueberry, the touch of my husband’s strong hand. I’ve noticed the beauty of bright-colored birds against a backdrop of white snow; the crunch of big boots on snow that flutters away.
There’s the satisfaction of a good book to read and the enjoyment of fine entertainment streamed live through a shared screen. I treasure the connection of old friends that my busyness often takes away. And hasn’t it been a marvel to see the goodness of so many people who make our world still function, like a neighbor who clears your sidewalk, the grocery store clerks, pharmacy workers, journalists, mail deliverers, police and fire workers and our heroes in the health care profession? Have you noticed the young volunteers who take to the streets repeatedly to serve those in need?
I’m not ignoring the hardships or the things that need to change ... I’m just observing that living in gratitude for the small moments, observing life with some awe, worshiping and praising God for all blessings, work together for our good and well-being.
In the middle of this worst winter weather, we began the sacred season of Lent — a time for reflection and preparation between Ash Wednesday and Easter.
This year, in addition to giving something up, I’m adding a behavior, as well ... the listing of three gratitudes a day in my journal. Spelling them out will be a reminder of how God blesses me and how I’m called to bless others. At night, instead of counting sheep, I’ll count my blessings. Hopefully, this will help me establish a gratitude habit that will carry over and balance my tendency to dip into negativity. Author Brennan Manning writes: “The antithesis of giving thanks is grumbling. The grumblers live in a state of self-induced stress.”
God knows that anxiety, cynicism and complaining can suck the joy right out of you. I know from personal experience.
It’s easy to gratefully praise God for big things. There’s a championship to celebrate, a promotion achieved, the birth of a child, a homecoming, a miraculous turnaround — so many huge blessings happen on our journeys. The day I got my vaccination, I thanked God repeatedly. But what about the little things? Do we notice and hold close those pockets of joy that clothe us with the daily reality of God’s love and blessings of life? I pray you’ll join me in that walk toward Easter of three written gratitudes a day.
"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)."