A Thousand Gifts

Winter Morning

Winter Morning

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

A year ago I stumbled upon a blog called A Holy Experience. The captivating poetry of Ann Voscamp’s writing, photos of her life on a farm, and the background music of David Nevue’s piano playing, created a soothing and healing world. It was one of the blogs which inspired me to start The Contemplative Cottage.  Yesterday, as I took some time to lose myself in its many pages and Advent meditations, I discovered Ann’s gratitude practice, One Thousand Gifts, which has created a “gratitude community” of folks and bloggers who have taken up the practice themselves.

The practice is simple: list what you are thankful for and thank God for them.  Keep adding to the list over time until you reach 1000.  List 10 things a day or spend a quiet morning or a Sabbath day making a longer list once a week.  Take the nearest scrap of paper and start writing.

What brings you joy today? Makes you laugh? Whose presence are you thankful for? What beauty do you notice and take delight in? Who or what touches your heart and mind?

Ann describes these gifts as God’s “I love you” and our grateful response as a practice of worship.  She says that making the list made her want to look for more of these grace-full experiences.  Knowing from my own practice of paying attention to the beauty in nature, intentional looking leads to seeing more and more of what would have been unnoticed.

The word that comes to mind is abundance.  Rather than seeing a glass half full or half empty, this practice suggests that the glass is overflowing, just waiting to be noticed.  I am going to take up Ann’s challenge and start making my list.

“When in all gifts we find God, then in God we shall find all things.” George MacDonald.

photo: Susan Forshey
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  • Susan, what a wonderful idea! I’ve visited A Holy Experience, but evidently I haven’t poked around enough because I didn’t discover One Thousand Things.

    This year has been the year of living gratefully for me. I don’t know exactly how it began, but I suddenly found myself so incredibly grateful for my life. And the more grateful I became, the more I found to be grateful for. Case in point: earlier this month I got a rejection letter from an agent who had a partial of my novel. I cried, of course, and felt marvelously sorry for myself for several hours. But I didn’t want to indulge in self-pity (that itself is a miracle!), and so I prayed, and it came to me that I should think of things to be grateful for. Here’s what I came up with:

    I’d had coffee the day before with a local author. If I’d gotten the rejection sooner than I did, I would have been a basket case when I met him. Three cheers for timing!

    Said author offered to read the first two chapters of my ms and possibly pass them on to his agent!

    Another friend of mine emailed the next day and said she’d been talking to her agent and he thought his colleague might be interested in my ms and suggested I send a query.

    My kids were playing together in their room and for once weren’t arguing, so I could make dinner in relative quiet.

    My husband fully supports my writing and believes in me and my words, which carries me on the days when I don’t. (One writer friend of mine isn’t so lucky; I can’t imagine I’d have the courage to keep going if I didn’t have Doug’s support.)

    I have wonderful knives and pans, which make cooking a joy.

    I have a gas stove, which also makes cooking a joy.

    I could go on and on, because once I got started I couldn’t stop thinking of all the things I am grateful for! And it nipped that self-pity in the bud. Right now, I’m grateful for you, my friend, and your blog that reminds me to pay attention.