One morning recently while at the beach house, I noticed while I was dressing, there was a female cardinal sitting on the post of the porch and looking in the window. I am sure it did not see me but I watch it as I dressed. It was fascinating.
Later while eating my breakfast I once again noticed the cardinal. I watched once again at the beauty of God’s creation. But also because it was so unusual.
At the beach we see seagulls, pelicans, sandpipers, and grackles (a member of the raven family). We do not see song birds and the pretty colorful birds of the woodlands. So it was unusual, shocking really, to see this beautiful cardinal sharing its life with me.
Recently I was given a book by a very dear friend of mine. It is written by Ann Voskamp and the title is One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. Ann Voskamp is the wife of a pig farmer that lives in southwest Ontario, Canada. She and her husband have six children. She lives a busy life although may not as exciting as some. I have been to that area of the world. It is not for me. But her book is about a dare, given to her by a friend, to live fully right where you are.
This dare is to list one thousand gifts each year. Amazing the gifts she finds. The rainbow that you see in the bubbles of the soap suds while doing dishes. The way your child’s hair curls to one side. Laughter. Wind coming in the window as you drive and so many more. It is the same gentle gifts that God gives us each day.
The point is not just to make the list, but rather to make the list, say the gift out loud and give thanks for the gift. The point is to become one with God by recognizing and acknowledging the smallest of gifts that we are given. The point is to be in communion with God as we carry Him in our thoughts each moment of each day. Living our lives to the fullest because we see him in all the wonder of His world.
Now Ann Voskamp writes deep. It is not a book for a surface reader. But the message is so profound. Seeing God in our simplest pleasures. Opening up our eyes to see the beauty all around us. Like standing in awe last night at the big tall trees that were swaying heavily in the wind and yet able to stay rooted to the ground.
I am convinced that I never saw the world the same way before my husband died. And I do not want others to go through the trauma to get to see what I see now. But I wish for all persons to have this special walk with God. It is different. It is direct closeness. It is intimate. It is marvelous. I feel chosen. I feel special. I feel humble. I am reverent.
I dare all who reads this. Go with me on this journey. Get a pad, a pencil and start writing down all of your gifts. Seek out the small pleasures. The way the sunbeam hits your windows. The fact that you made three green lights in a row. The way the clerk at the store smiles at you. The pleasure you feel as you give your basket to the next shopper at Aldi’s without taking their quarter. The song of the birds as they chatter in the yard.
Give thanks for these small gifts. Eucharist is the word for thanksgiving. According to Alexander Schmemann Eucharist is the state of the perfect man. Eucharist is the life of paradise. Eucharist is the only full and real response of man to God’s creation, redemption, and gift of heaven.
Thank you God for the beautiful cardinal that you sent to visit me and let me be aware of your presence in my life. I am so thankful for how you care for me.