Past the brown, through the viscous, annoying brown, joy is in the center. The precious Center of life, in the Presence that fills each 60 seconds with Reality. True Reality. Mercy, lovingkindness, compassion. He is filling the moments, each moment, with Himself; it remains for me to press through and find Him, see Him, savor Him, golden in the midst.
My good friend and mentor Ann says the way to press through is to count gifts. All the time, without ceasing, count gifts. Big, small, insignificant—count, list, enumerate, recite. As you breathe, count.
And so, I count gifts:
#152 – 177 of the endless gifts
(and there are so many more that don’t get posted…)
5 golden minutes
dishes to eat from
hot water and soap and a sink to wash them in
two precious boys – wealth untold
a conscientious, caring husband
the chance to live in this place
an arm around my waist
our current house, lived-in and lovely
clothes to wear
a washer to wash them in so I don’t have to do it by hand, like most of my friends here
Internet of some kind
my son in his pajamas, twirling our beach ball globe
this journal open to record the gifts
the discipline of thankfulness, and
how it pulls my heart out of the doldrums
the way thankfulness bubbles up and overflows into Joy
Will singing out of the blue, “Chim-chiminey, chim-chiminey, chim-chim-cheroo,” from the indomitable Mary Poppins...
Will saying, upon first viewing my latest local acquisition (a polyester blue-and-teal 60s tie-died number), “Dat is your fwimming suit?”
a perfect afternoon today
visiting three different sets of friends,
with two perfectly behaved sons who made me so proud with their language and their smiles and thank yous…
and in the evening a thoughtful visit to me from my best friend here, who I’ve missed all week, who came bearing gifts of food and a willingness to help me sew a project for my music class,
and just as she’s arriving, her sweet daughter calls me from the city (where she’s gone for her senior year of high school), and we talk in English while her mother listens, rapt, and proud…
And after the mother leaves I call the daughter back, and we talk, and she says, “I was so sad today, so sad, and the only person I wanted to call is you… I don’t know what’s wrong with me… I think it’s because it’s turning to fall and my heart always sinks with the change of seasons… and all I want to do is be quiet and think by myself… “
I ask if she has a journal to write down her thoughts, and she says no, but she writes poetry, so I tell her I do too, and that I write down my prayers so I can look back and see how God has answered. And after a pause, I tell her that God brings seasons into our lives, heavier seasons, so He can grow our character and make us depend on Him. And I think about my own growing season of mothering, maturing, patiently waiting for fruit in all areas. And I tell her about “senioritis”, American slang, and how it means your heart is already on to the next thing and impatient to be done with now. And she laughs, and agrees, yes, that’s her.
And I tell her I will pray for her, that God will give her peace in her heart, and give her a love for her studies, and give her patience. She doesn’t know “patience” in English, and so I explain, “it means waiting, without being anxious.” She understands, and says yes, that’s what I need. And I tell her I will pray for sweet dreams and rest tonight.
In a year of friendship, our first real conversation.
And I think, today began with awful words and sad, angry hearts, attacks from our enemy and sickness and doldrums… and it ended in glory. In joy. Pressed through, into joy. And my heart is full to running over, and I know why I’m here.
And I resolve, by His grace: to press through,
and keep pressing through