Gifts & Graces
Here’s my random gratitude collection of mostly small but sometimes large things that helped to make January better.
Flannel sheets and silk pillowcase. I absolutely cannot sleep unless I’m warm. But as I’ve aged, my thermal comfort range has shrunk to a few measly degrees. So I have to be warm, but not too warm. The perfect combination for me is flannel sheets and a silk pillowcase. I love the warmth and weight of the flannel sheets, and the silk pillowcase keeps my head from over-heating. (The pillowcase supposedly also keeps my face from wrinkling and my hair from becoming an unrecoverable mess.)
Candles when the sun goes down. Early sunsets are difficult for me. I have to be coaxed to leave the house in the evenings even in balmy summer weather. But darkness at 4:30 in the afternoon just makes me give up on doing anything productive. But I have re-discovered candles! Candles while eating dinner on an ordinary weeknight. Candles on the weekend while watching football. Any time it gets dark, I now light a candle and it makes me feel better. I’m still not going out for any evening activities, but now I feel cozy in my house and vaguely indulgent like I’m on retreat or at the spa.
Conversations with strangers. I have become a person who talks to strangers. This greatly surprises me, since I am an introvert who doesn’t typically enjoy superficial chatting. But as this pandemic lingers on, I find joy in short conversations with our mail carrier, with the woman behind the deli counter at the grocery store, with the person in front of me in the line at the bank. These conversations are concrete evidence that people are generally kind, that everyone is just trying to carry on with their life as the pandemic seems to continue indefinitely, and that we are all connected by simple things such as junk mail and electric bills, sliced Swiss cheese, and shared complaints about the weather.
A sunny day after a blizzard. There’s something about a bright, sunny day after a major snowstorm that just takes my breath away. The sidewalk shoveling and car scraping is done. Today I just get to appreciate how the snow sparkles like a wildly enthusiastic, glitter-encrusted Christmas card. Ice crunches underfoot and forces me to pay attention to where I put my feet. The birds are out, making up for lost time during the storm and reprimanding me for the empty bird feeder. All of this is a lesson, one which I can’t ignore, about being mindfully present to the beauty of God’s creation.
A closing prayer
Dear God, please help me pay attention to the many gifts and graces that you bring to my life. Let me gratefully acknowledge the people and things that fill my days with joys that range from small comforts to immense love. And thank you, God, for being with me each day. I am humbled and inspired by how Your Spirit works through the actions of so many people. Amen.