Monday, November 12, 2012

Grateful


I've been thinking about gratitude a lot lately.
When I culled some objects and priced them for the shop,
I realized that what I keep
is usually in the category of
"receptacle."
The little bowl shown here is full of old slides from Peru.
Each one holds a story, an entire drama.
Example: a missionary doctor conducting tuberculosis testing.
One of the vivid memories from my jungle childhood is walking to church
at dusk with my mom and little sister.
As we approached the thatched-roof church,
we could see huddled figures just outside the doors,
coughing and coughing
dying from tuberculosis.
 So when I look at that slide, I see
the shift from death to life.

 I think life is much like that bowl of slides.
Some events are so beautiful.
And my pattern has been to be grateful
for the good, the lovely, the easy.
The pictures that are a pleasure to remember.

Here is my newest receptacle, a big metal tray.
I have no idea what it was made for.
It's on the coffee table (actually a piano bench),
and at present it's holding this stack of photos
and a book by Henri Nouwen.
I am a reluctant spender and finally,
after a year of wishing I owned it,
I bought this little book on Amazon.
Used.
Maybe the best $5 I ever spent.

These jars hold little stones from Lake Superior.
They are worn smooth by centuries of cold water.

Here is Nouwen on the topic of "lifting our cup to life."
"When we lift our cup to life, we must dare to say: "I am grateful for all that has happened to me and led me to this moment." This gratitude which embraces all of our past is what makes our life a true gift for others, because this gratitude erases bitterness, resentments, regret, and revenge as well as all jealousies and rivalries. It transforms our past into a fruitful gift for the future, and makes our life, all of it,
into a life that gives life."

I want to be grateful.
Truly grateful, for all of it.

In this season, I am holding onto this simple picture.
It's a reminder.
 The perfect receptacle
given by the One who calls me beloved.
It's all good.
"In the midst of the sorrows is consolation,
in the midst of the darkness is light,
in the midst of the despair is hope,
in the midst of Babylon is a glimpse of Jerusalem,
and in the midst of the army of demons is the consoling angel.
The cup of sorrow,
inconceivable as it seems,
is also the cup of joy.
Only when we discover this in our own life
can we consider drinking it."
(Henri Nouwen)

(The old black and white photo on the coffee table shows me and my little sisters in our house in Peru).

1 comment:

  1. Laura, Your memories from childhood remind me of all I've learned about Haiti this past year as our son and his wife seek to adopt two beautiful children from there. Through the internet and their visits there, I've seen their orphanage survive the measles, two hurricanes and so much more. The miracle of it all is the smile that is on all their faces. They dress up for church every Sunday and learn a new bible verse everyday. None of the children have left the orphanage since they arrived, for many their entire life. All they know is the four huts on their half acre dirt lot and yet they are so happy. There is something about their simple lifestyle and their joy in Jesus that we can learn so much from. Thanks for sharing your childhood experiences so I can better relate to my grandchildren whom I have yet to meet.

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