I greatly enjoy jet-lagging. At least on the homeward end, because it sets me back in the rhythm of waking when the stars are still out. On this Thanksgiving morning, I woke at four something and curled myself in my chair to watch the candle flames sway in the inky black of my windows. I opened my Bible to that old, jubilant Psalm 103, which has long put the words of praise in my mouth that I yearned to sing.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.
In the long, watchful dark of the hour before dawn, I set my heart to blessing God. I peered back over the landscape of my life in the past year and marked the roads of grace, the houses of kindness, the feasts of joy that met me on my road.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of his benefits.
I opened my trusty red notebook and listed out every thing for which I could offer thanks. I strove to remember every grace, to forget none. My pen moved swiftly. My mind leapt ahead of me from memory to bright memory. As if I found each afresh, I remembered love given, adventures taken, quiet moments of wonder discovered, help unexpectedly given, encouragement when I was close to despair. My pen raced.
I won't say I was surprised. I know myself blessed. But as thanks welled up in my heart, I felt undone by the goodness I was remembering. So much grace has been heaped in my hands. I will be honest. I am not prone to gratitude. I am prone to wonder, but my heart is the hungry kind, I am always reaching forward, always a little discontent with where I find myself. I yearn for so much beyond my touch that it is hard for me sometimes to stop long enough to acknowledge what I actually possess. The record of my blessing scratched on the page today was a discipline by which I tethered my restless mind and looked long on the goodness that has kept me in life.
Who heals forgives your iniquities, Who heals your diseases, Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
In naming my gratitude, I told the story of my life afresh. From the limited vocabulary of my limited sight, I entered the great language of thanks and found my tale to be rich. As I wrote and prayed, sang within my heart, and lifted my eyes to the light rising out my window, I realized that the giving of thanks is a form of narration, a truth-telling by which I tell the right story of my life. Caught as I am sometimes within my narrow perception of my need or desire, blinded as I am by loneliness, the act of giving of thanks is a way of healing my sight. To remember God's grace, to name his goodness, to forget none of his benefits is to tell the true story of my life. That is the tale of God's great mercy. His love has marked every hour, his hands have shaped every day. I don't always see it, but when I look back with the sharpened vision of thanks, I see the great mercy that lies behind me, the great hope that lies ahead.
Bless the Lord, O my soul.
May you remember your own story today, your own bright tale of blessing. May you step beyond the bounds of discouragement into the wider air of thanks. May the memory of God's goodness lift you into joy. May love surround you. May laughter mark your hours. May feasting fill your belly, and your soul, with the hope of great thanks.
Happy Thanksgiving my beautiful friends!