Gifts

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.

one thousand giftsThis 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.

My Passenger

I recently had the privilege to serve on an Ordination Council for a lovely young lady in our church.  But on the same day as one of the meetings some of my dear friends were scheduled to come to the beach house.  We made plans that I would go to my meeting and as soon as I was released I would make the three hour drive to the beach house.

The meeting ran into the late afternoon, but I left as soon as I could. As it got dark, I was motoring along, listening to and singing to the upcoming Easter Cantata on a CD so I could know my part. I was really looking forward to getting to the beach and seeing my friends.

About 30 minutes into this trip I hit horrible wind.  At first I thought I had a tire problem because I was having trouble keeping my car on the road.  Then I realized that my car gave me messages if I had a tire problem so it must be something else.  I soon realized, I had hit a bad storm. The rain came down in sheets and I was holding on for dear life to keep the car on the road.

I reduced my speed.  That did not make me happy since I was determined to hurry to the beach to begin my visit with friends.  I knew I had to be safe.  So I became alert, held on for dear life and kept going.

All of a sudden I smelled the most wonderful sweet smell in the car.  It was a strong odor. It was not to be missed.  I sniffed and sniffed and tried to figure out what it was.

I did not have any deserts in the car.  I did not have any perfume in the car.

What was this marvelous smell?  It took my mind off of the danger on the road and I focused on the delightful smell.  Then it hit me.  The smell was a strong version of my dead husband’s cologne.  He did not wear it everyday.  It was “Cool Water” for our special occasions.  It was that intoxicating smell of love, romance and caring.

My car was still being buffeted by the wind but I was now somehow comforted and less anxious. I knew that I was going to be fine.  I felt that I could see better in the dark through the rain and I took my car back up to a reasonable speed and went on as if it was a clear Sunday afternoon adventure.

About forty five minutes later the weather cleared and I noticed the smell had gone away.  Later, after I got through Florence and was on some very dark and lonely country roads the weather came back.  I had hit another pocket of this weather system.  The high winds returned along with the pelting rain.  Once again, I reduced my speed and started white knuckling the steering wheel.

Yes. You know what happened.
The strong smell came back.

It was overpowering and so enticing.  The car seemed to be driving itself.  I relaxed, felt so calm and knew that I was going to be fine.

OK, once again, you know I am just a little left of center.  As you go through this journey with me, you have found that I talk to birds, I see my husband in squirrels and now I am telling you that I had a mysterious passenger helping to drive my car.

I do not know if this was my husband, a guardian angel or the Holy Spirit.  But someone let His presence be known by the sweet smell and the calming spirit.

I truly believe God was letting me know once again that his promise the night that my husband died was being carried out.  He told me that night that He would care for me.  I would never have thought that He meant He would help me drive through a storm.

God is Good.  God is ever present.  Praise always to my God.