This week has been heavy.
Heavy with sadness and heavy with emotion.
Heavy with desire for things to change.
I think of those children in Sandy Hook. I think of their parents and siblings, the families of the adults who were taken away, and my chest heaves.
Our internet was down for days and I had not heard the news until Saturday night. Then it trickled to me over time until I heard the full story.
My insides ache for their grief and loss. For those parents who waited outside as their children were (or were not) released one by one. For the pain and panic they must have felt, and the pain that they still suffer.
And at the same time, I am feeling pushed to do. Something.
Something needs to change.
Our world needs to change.
We need each other.
Not just in Connecticut, and not just in the face of tragedy.
We, as humans, were made for one another. To love one another. To care for one another.
And we’ve cut ourselves off.
We are so busy. So distracted.
Senseless trivialities of moving life faster, better, fancier.
We can’t take any of this with us when we leave this earth.
What can we do here and now to change who we have become as the human race?
What circumstances, if tweaked, just one little bit, might have changed the mind of that mad, raving, boy-man who stormed the school?
Is it possible?
To create a movement of soul-level change among the entire human race?
Let’s not make this about politics.
That’s not what it is about.
This is about people, and family, and feelings, and respect, and responsibility to ourselves and one another.
It is about looking at where we are headed – pulling the reigns, looking down the fork in the road, and choosing NOT to continue along the dark and oblivious path.
It’s about choosing to do right and live whole-ly (and holy), and abandoning the shallow rat race for more meaningless stuff.
It’s about getting back to soul-level values, and deep faith, and quality time, and teaching our children, and intimate relationships, and caring about each person with whom we interact on any level during each minute of every day.
It’s about community.
It’s about not ignoring – poverty, circumstances, issues, fellow human beings.
It’s about forcing ourselves to remember that we are all from the same family. We all deserve love and respect. We all need consideration.
It’s about being grateful for each and every little grace – blatant blessing and hidden blessing – that God dances across the face of our lives.
And all this – this news from Connecticut serendipitously coincides with the book on my nightstand, “One Thousand Gifts“, by Ann Voskamp.
This horrific event is raking Newtown raw and rippling its grief over the nation, and the pages of Ann’s book are simultaneously telling me – in hauntingly beautiful and poetic words – that gratitude precedes any miracle.
Always, and in everything, gratitude precedes any miracle.
She’s found a word for it – “Eucharisteo” – a word defined by three Latin roots: Grace, Thanksgiving, Joy.
Learn to live Eucharisteo. Write them down – the Graces, the Thanksgivings, the Joys.
“Thanksgiving precedes the miracle“.
Gratitude precedes a the miracle of a changed world.
Record them – those gratitudes. Make them part of daily life – several times every day.
Ann quotes Martin Luther, “If you want to change the world, pick up your pen”.
“Thanksgiving precedes the miracle“.
And we do, don’t we? We DO need a miracle.
It’s not too late.
Pick up your pens. Make a journal, or two, or three.
Record anything, anything that makes you grateful.
The twinkling of yellow-white Christmas lights against the pink and blue sunrise. . .
Even if it’s small.
The hum of traffic on a city street – reminding me the world keeps turning – even in sadness and pain, life keeps thrumming. . .
Even if it seems trivial in the shadow of such atrocity.
Candy for dessert. . .
The smell of baby soap on my little girl’s hair. . .
The boys pulling silly faces at the dinner table. . .
Because in noting these tiny things – these tiny flutters of God-breath that bless our moments, we are learning to look at life through a new perspective.
It is practice, and it will change us.
I was not going to share a recipe today.
To throw a recipe out there felt shallow – like I was ignoring the pain of all those crying hearts on the upper East Coast.
And then, as I turned page after page of Ann’s book, I changed my mind.
Sometimes, she admits, it feels immature and trivial to be thankful for such silly things – like shredded cheese – but then, she shifts and decides it’s really not. It’s all practice in living a life of thanks, in changing ourselves.
And in changing ourselves, we change the world.
Shouldn’t we be grateful for any gift God gives us, even if it’s a small one, even in the midst of tragedy?
The aroma of coffee percolating in the still-dark morning. . .
Isn’t it a heart-stopping, breath-taking miracle deserving of thanksgiving, that we are able to taste, and share, and cherish moments of tradition with loved ones?
The giggles and joy of Christmas sweets. . .
So I am sharing a recipe today.
Because I am grateful for it, and I am grateful for the shift in my life-looking lenses.
I am grateful that God is opening my eyes, our eyes, to a new way of life.
I am grateful for you – who comes here and shares these things with me, and I know, I know that on some level you will join me on this quest to change ourselves and our world.
Eucharisteo. Grace. Thanksgiving. Joy.
In honor of those children and the adults that gave their lives for them, please.
Please stop and be grateful. Start living life.
Break ground for changing the world as we know it.
I believe that by lining our lives with a silk of thanks, we offer respect for the lives of those children and their protectors –
– that the crossing of their lives from this one to the next can spark a movement of change and that baby steps are not only acceptable, they are necessary.
All that is required for humanity to change may be infinitesimal steps of thanks for tiny things, one by one, day by day, and our gratitude will grow and change us.
And if we change, we will remember the truth of Love and Grace and what they mean.
Our hands will reach out to one another, and we can save each other from fear, starvation, violence, greed, brutality. . . .
We can feed and clothe one another.
Defend one another.
Nurse aching bodies and aching hearts.
We can encourage and strengthen and LOVE.
“Thanksgiving always precedes the miracle”.
– Ann Voskamp
Enjoy a Christmas treat with your family.
Close your eyes,
And take a moment to give pure and honest thanks.