I had asked the children to name two things they were thankful for.
About each other.
It had been that kind of morning.
I let Emma Claire go first because at 5, gratitude comes easier.
Emma Claire answered. She was thankful that Coulter was learning and thankful that he got to play football and she missed the point completely, but at least she tried.
Finally, he mutters.
I can’t think of anything.
Emma Claire starts to cry. He’s not thankful for me.
And I start to cry.
And I drop them off at Sunday School and go for a run. Which, I get, it totally unfair, but sometimes the best Sunday School, the best life school, the best way to seek God and find God and know God is to run.
Later, at “big people church”, I wrote him a note. Him-Coulter, not Him-God.
I asked him to write 100 things that he was thankful for. He had the whole church hour.
At first he thought he had to limit himself to Church.
He was thankful that God forgives our sins.
He was thankful that we meet new people.
He was thankful that we can pray.
I probably should’ve let him keep going, but I wrote him another note.
You can write about anything that you are thankful for.
If you write down chicken nuggets, I’m gonna lose it.
So he starts his lists and by the closing benediction he had made it to 80.
I was pretty impressed.
Today I decided to read through the list.
I asked him if I could share these few:
Beating the Packers.
That Emma Claire might not be like other sisters. (???)
Somewhere in the 40’s I got mentioned for having a job. Thankful that his mom had a job.
Thankful that his dad had a job.
I laughed with him. Dude! The Lord, our God, knit you together in my body. I grew and grew to the point of huge-ness and I was sick and I was tired and then I spent almost 48 hours in labor, three of which were to push.
I broke all the blood vessels in my face.
And I get #80?
OK, I left the pushing part out. I’m trying to teach gratitude not completely freak the little guy out.
Back to church. I missed most of the sermon passing notes back and forth and keeping a close eye for any mention of food items.
But I know Pastor Kyle preached from Genesis 1.
And I know we are called to worship the Creator.
Not the good things that He gives. BUt the He himself.
For His glory, all of this.
Sometimes we call it the creation story. Emma Claire learned about it at preschool and now she wants to paint one wall black for the darkness and one wall yellow for the light and she says “we could paint the creation story.”
And we could.
But we’re not gonna.
But it’s not a story. It’s truth.
Anyway, as we were driving home, Emma Claire started singing, “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. Open the eyes of my heart.”
“I want to see you. I want to see you.”
And I thought, yes. Open the eyes of my heart, Lord.
I want to see You.
Gratitude comes from recognizing. Knowing. Naming.
A few weeks ago, a new piano student who is unlike any child I have ever taught, told me I had old eyes.
She also asked me to quit counting as she didn’t really need the help. One day she snuck her iPad into her piano bag while her state trooper-Dad sat outside.
And today when I asked her what she like to do at recess she explained quite mater-of-factly that since it had been a hot summer, it was sure to be a cold winter and so she liked to crack acorns during recess.
To help the squirrels.
And this has nothing to do with my story except that I can’t help but think how grateful the squirrels will be for her help.
I was looking for more light. I couldn’t see her music and that’s when she started in with my old eyes.
And I love how the Lord uses children to shake us up and wake us up and I’ve been looking for more light and I remember those days when I could not find it and everything felt dark and I remember telling my Mother—
Everyone thinks I’m OK.
But I’m not.
Except I was OK.
And I am OK.
And using the word OK in my family ranks right up there with fine so let me just say we are so far beyond OK.
We are resting in His goodness and this I know.
Not for a moment.
Did He forsake me.
And listening to Emma Claire sing and hearing sneaky little acorn crusher talk about my old eyes, I’m remembering.
It’s not that our eyes get old.
It’s they close.
Death closes them and divorce closes them and betrayal of the life we thought we had.
The life we had planned.
We close our eyes and we forget to see and we forget to look and we become an 8 year old boy who refuses to be grateful for his sister and where but from his Momma would a boy learn that?
We close our eyes to the light.
But mine have been opened, and tonight, sitting in a beautiful space; a beautiful place, I’m looking out my huge picture window.
The one that I love. The one that I will not cover with blinds and not cover with curtains. The one that lets the greater light shine in through the day and the lesser lights sparkle at night and I sing with Emma Claire.
Open the eyes of my heart Lord.
I want to see You.
And I remember the story of a woman who had nothing and she was overheard praying, “All of his and Jesus, too.”
That’s how to teach gratitude and learn gratitude and practice, daily, gratitude.
To remember. I have all of this.
And Jesus too.