Well, it’s official! I am 52 today. Not that this is earth shattering news for the world but in my world it is a little life changing. Man, it feels like I was 51 just yesterday. Where does the time go….
Today is a bit gray-literally, not metaphorically- there are crows skipping in the bare branches of the old oaks in our woods and the air filling with a feathered version of Marco Polo. I would prefer the trill of spring birds but this will suffice. As the sun gradually begins to wake itself up I can’t seem to shake the grayness resting on my shoulders-and its not my hair. I want today to be filled with all good things! I want to feel celebrated and special because it’s my birthday but instead I feel groggy, unstill, and untethered.
I’ve had a series of texts-some waiting for me when I woke up (you two get bonus points 😉 ) and others trickling in as the morning goes on. I love each one. The best thing to happen to my day so far has been the 4 year old rendition of “Happy Birthday dear Miiiiiim, Woo.”-which I will carry with me throughout the day. Your heart cannot get any lighter than when you hear a sweet little voice sing with gusto and love.
If this all sounds like a pity party under way then you might be on the right track. To make it complete I will add that the check engine light in my car has come on, I have to go in for pre-op testing this afternoon, my ninja blender may have whirred its last whir and its 17 degrees outside. It’s suppose to be spring and 17 doesn’t cut it. Ok, enough of the groaning.
I am doing the Sacred Holidays Lent study again this year-and leading a group of really wonderful women online as we journey together. One of the practices set up as part of the study is Sabbath. I think incorporating Sabbath into a study like this is a great addition. Oddly enough, though, it falls on Wednesday’s-which takes a little getting used to! While it isn’t possible to take a Wednesday off every week, it forces us to pay attention; to look for those moments when we can breathe in the peace of stopping, acknowledging, and praising within our daily routines. This makes sense. And it is a great practice for any day.
The other thing this study offers is a space to begin with written prayer. Written prayer can be hard. It is hard to put down into words the truth of our need, our sin, our failures.Writing it all down makes it all very real and, once in writing, permanent. In our study there is a process that we are guided through that goes like this:
Repent of Sin
Ask for Others
Yield to God
Wait and Listen
Having it laid out like this provides a very intentional process and writing it out can be even more telling. This morning as I trudged through the waking up process-where said Ninja may have met its demise under the auspices of a special birthday coffee-I can’t say I was thrilled to see the prayer box staring at me from the page. I took a deep breath and was immediately filled with gratitude. Yeah, that last sentence? Not really. That’s how it should have gone. In truth I stared at the box, drank some coffee (now, less than special), drank some more coffee. Checked Instagram. Saw that Google wished me a happy birthday and checked out what happened on this day in history. I stared at the box again, sighed heavily and waited. And then morning prayer spilled out…
Oh, Lord. My God. How excellent is your name in ALL the earth. Thank you. Thank you Lord for today. For this now. Even though I am tired, YOU are still good. Even though I feel weak, you are STILL good. Even though my attitude is in the tank, you are STILL GOOD. Even though my thoughts wander, YOU are still good. Even though my check engine light is on, you are still GOOD. Even though I feel afraid, YOU ARE STILL GOOD. Even though I am anxious, YOU ARE STILL GOOD. Oh, GOD, you are STILL GOD and ALWAYS GOOD……….
I’ll stop there. It goes on for a while. Nothing beautifully eloquent or well written but an outpouring of heart that was both unexpected and very welcomed. There is something wonderful that happens when defenses come down in the presence of God. I live a very guarded existence and I have been accused of thinking way too much. My prayer today became an uninhibited litany of reminding myself that God is still ALWAYS good-whether my circumstances are good, bad or unremarkably ordinary. What IS remarkable is the sense of true praise and gratitude that came in these four words that will be a mantra for my day: YOU ARE STILL GOOD.
To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.
A dear friend just left me a message and reminded me that God chose this day for me to be-but he chooses everyday-for each of us-and it is in this extraordinary and astonishing truth that we can find praise and gratitude in every situation and, in turn, find Him there.