Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thank you... Thank you very much.

The place mats that made Bill glad
Stores like Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma are fun to browse in, but at our income level, browsing is mostly what’s going on in there for us. Sometimes, though, they put stuff on sale, and we can’t resist. Like last winter when Williams-Sonoma put a Cuisinart ice cream maker with two freezer bowls on sale for $50... And sometimes they put the seasonal stuff on deep discount, and that’s always fun, 'cos our house is all about holidays. We love’em, I tell ya.

So the other day, when we saw these Beatrix Potter Peter Rabbit laminated cork-backed place mats on sale for $5 each, they pretty much jumped into my hands. So we brought them home and replaced, yes, the Christmas mats that were still somehow gracing our table. (Bill’s mat was so sticky and gross no matter how many times I cleaned it that I had to throw it away!) And that night when Bill was setting the table, he spotted them – brilliant, observant child that he is. He let out a little gasp, and ran up and hugged me, saying over and over: “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Of course my heart melted... Other times, when he’s having a great time – like last night when we let him stay up late to watch a movie with Rowan Atkinson who is famous for playing Mr. Bean – he’ll exclaim, “I love you, Mom!” (or “I love you, Dad!” – depending on who he’s with.) I have to say I’m glad when he does stuff like this because it shows that he’s not rocking that “sense of entitlement” I’ve heard about. No thanks to us, I might add – as parents go, we’re terribly indulgent. But I find it hard to not shower him with ... everything! Although I like to make sure he gets more affection and hugs than STUFF...

The movie that made Bill glad
So the other night, I woke up around 4:30 a.m... Grace tells me that this is normal as we get older. Nice. So after I had peed, I’m lying in bed and I suddenly felt huuuugely convicted: The way Bill acted when he saw those mats, the way he yells out, “I love you!” at random happy times... that’s how I should be behaving all the time with God. And, really, I hardly ever just thank God for things. Ooooppsss... Now, fortunately I have an oh-so-soft, but decidedly firm cushion of grace around me... but if God gets even a drop of the warm fuzzies I feel when Bill says thanks, then I should be doing it much more often. Every night, though my cooking is marginal at best, Tom says thank you after our dinner... whether I’ve made something from scratch or just thrown a couple of hotdogs on the George Foreman... And it’s always so nice to those two little words, “Thank you!”

So, I was lying in bed there feeling totally bummed at my failure to give them to God, the One who really, really warrants it. Even on a day like Thanksgiving, which is, of course, designed specifically for this purpose, I’m often more concerned with other things like watching the parade, fixing the meal, dealing with relatives... And at church, while we’re supposed to be singing and praising God, I’m thinking about the excellent arrangements, the harmonies I’m trying out, whether I’m embarrassing my husband by dancing a little jig, or what I’m doing the rest of the day...

I’ve been reading this crazy book by Neal Stephenson called Anathem, in which the intellectuals are cloistered like monks. They focus on intellectual concerns only, without considering questions of theology. When events cause the main character to leave the cloister and he meets an outside person who believes in God, he has the following thoughts: 

Every day should be for
giving thanks!
“If you sincerely believed in God, how could you form one thought, speak one sentence, without mentioning Him? Instead of which [religious people] would go on for hours without bringing God into the the conversation at all. Maybe his God was remote from our doings. Or – more likely – maybe the presence of God was so obvious to him that he felt no more need to speak of it than I did to point out, all the time, that I was breathing air.”

It would be great to think that that’s how it is with me – that I’m so into God, and so grateful, that I’m breathing it – but truthfully, I’m just distracted most of the time. And, most likely, ungrateful and feeling entitled. It’s not pretty, but... that’s what I’m working with here. Maybe the Bible urges us so often to be thankful because the writers know we have to be told – it doesn't come naturally to us.

So what did I do when I realized this wretched thought? Well, the only thing I COULD do at the moment... I lay there praying, “I’m sorry! Thank you!” over and over. Just like Paul says in Romans: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” God Himself is the answer to our wretched ungratefulness! Mostly I think that ANY time my thoughts are drawn to God, it must be a gift from God Himself. So... I’m grateful that He pushed into my possibly peri-menopausal nocturnal musings and made me thankful, however brief that shot of light was. How to make it last? I don’t know... make a habit of counting my blessings? I guess that’s a good place to start... 

In the meantime, after you listen to this song by Sam and Dave, I’m going to guess that you’ll be feeling at least a little bit grateful.

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