I have been reading the book by Ann Voskamp, called "One Thousand Gifts." It is a great book, with some slightly difficult phrases, but also some very sharply pungent metaphors, which aim at deepening her own spirituality and consciousness, as she reflects on her life as a busy farmer's wife, a mother of 6 children, and a person of faith, who is trying to go deeper. She uses the tool of writing down gifts. Her lists-- the few things on it which she actually tells us, and her thoughts are intense and poetic, and well-educated and well-informed. She is the kind of person one wants to be. She is able to slow herself down, in times of intense emotions and busyness, by going into deep and true gratitude for gifts given-- the slant of light on the walls and floors of her farmhouse, the way the soap bubbles look iridescent on her hands as she does dishes. The book centers on several thoughts which are the ballast of Christian theology, the idea of Eucharisteo-- taking bread, giving thanks, being present to the great presence of God as the beloved who fills our longing with plentiful grace and perfect joy. But she has such clarity about the ways we forget to be open to that love, open to that way of seeing.
I started my own list, which this week, (early February) contains chiefly the gift of rain. We are in the 3rd year of drought in California, and we need buckets and buckets of rain; enough rain to replenish the aquifers, to help the salmon have enough water to get downstream to the sea, and back again; enough water to help the crops. The redwood trees seem to be standing taller, more gracefully green, more openly embracing the drizzle which is letting them breathe and unfurl their beauty. We have the Soquel cherry trees blooming on Old San Jose Rd, right on schedule. Their frilly pink blooms always seem to come too early, but then I realize it is February, and they know better than I when it is time for them to go onstage! I am also watching the bridal plum tree open its dazzling white blossoms, now covered with diamond-bright raindrops. And this week, in my family, our German exchange student/son came to visit, cementing now 19 years of friendship with us. He has always been like an older brother to my boys; and he loves Point Lobos like I do, so we were able to rejoice that we got to make it down there--- and even though the day was blustery, the beauty of it has not been lost on us. We stopped at the beach at Marina, which was not being rained on, although we could see storm clouds over both ends of the bay, and Jan was so glad to get to dip his toes in the Pacific ocean, and walk a bit on the strand. To appreciate the seasons, the way the rain has come finally, the way we have had to tuck ourselves into winter again, to be waiting for the harbingers of spring, and to start working on this gratitude list, trying to pay attention with more grace, more patience, more humility, and yes, more love, is my hope.