When I come to November in a year, something happens in my spirit. I’m ready to cozy down into warm sweaters and soft blankets. I love scented candles burning and soups simmering on the stovetop. It’s a time to slow down and reflect over the year. When my spirit is in a good place, my heart finds much to be grateful for. One thing that fills me with gratitude is the gift of friends—real life and blogging friends.
For the next few weeks, I have invited five friends I respect deeply to share stories and thoughts on gratitude in their lives. I hope you will join with me for all five weeks and share your responses to their words. If you miss a week, you can click Choosing Gratitude series to catch up with the other posts in this series. Will you settle in with me, with a mug of something warm in your hands and think on those things and happenings in the year for which you are grateful?
I wish I could say I’ve had the privilege of meeting Michele Morin in person. Alas, that has not been the case, yet. I have, however, had many interactions with her online. She is a deep thinker, an intentional mama and Grammy. She is an avid reader, and a thought-provoking writer and blogger. And today, I have the opportunity to share her words here in my little space. Please help me welcome Michele Morin to this little corner of the blog-o-sphere today!!
By Michele Morin
The distance around my elliptical driveway is one tenth of a mile. I know this because I drove around it, watching the odometer—and then did it again just to be sure. This fall I’ve been doing a careful jog-trot around its leaf-strewn gravel, a compromise intended to jump start a flagging metabolism without putting undue wear and tear on aging joints and narrowing spinal interstices. Five times around with the dog makes for a half mile of elevated heart rate, deep breathing, and an uncluttered brain.
Of course, the gift of those empty mental parentheses is that I get to decide what I’m thinking about while I’m avoiding loose stones in the path and thanking God for the fiery red Virginia creeper and the rusty orange of fading marigolds.
Lately, I’ve been following the example of Jeremiah, the Old Testament prophet who watched the nation of Israel disintegrate before his very eyes. In Lamentations, he records the morbid details around the sacking of Jerusalem and the devastation of siege warfare:
- Chapter 1 — The Lord is punishing Jerusalem for her serial idolatry.
- Chapter 2 — Yes, it is time to lament the sin, the death, and the loss.
Then, twenty verses into Chapter 3, Jeremiah turns a corner and makes a choice. He leaves his mental parentheses open just long enough for an act of the will, and, shutting out the evidence for despair that lies all around him, he “calls to mind” a new thought that gives him hope:
“But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul,
‘therefore I will hope in him.’
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:21-26)
The beauty of this poetic tribute to God’s faithfulness is heightened by its context. To intentionally call to mind images of gratitude in the midst of peace and prosperity is one thing, but it takes a sinewy faith to summon them when chaos reigns and the future looks bleak.
Jeremiah is setting the table for a discussion on gratitude that casts me in a rather unfavorable light. For even with the benefit of resurrection power and New Testament instructions to “give thanks in all circumstances,” I struggle to stay in a thankful mindset.
The prophet’s repetition of the word “wait” describes his own plight while also tweaking our privileged twenty-first century impatience. However, the distance between today’s desire and its future fulfillment is also a parenthesis, and it’s a good place from which to call blessing to mind.
So, while my feet carry me around our elliptical driveway, I will use that time to notice the tiny changes to the landscape brought on by cold nights and windy afternoons. I will begin small by thanking God for the beauty inherent even in bleakness.
Then, I will call to mind my grandson’s wise and wacky sense of humor; the sound of a trumpet practicing scales in our living room; my husband’s smile of appreciation when he’s enjoyed a meal I’ve prepared; the soft muttering sounds my granddaughter makes when she’s snooping in the canned goods cupboard.
Then, I will call to mind the disappointments of the year, the times when God has said no unexpectedly, and the occasions when He has chosen to heal, but not in this lifetime, for this is the lesson of Lamentations: By faith, we can lean into gratitude for what has been given while at the same time waiting quietly and holding loosely our desire for all that has been withheld.
Gratitude is an enduring gift that seeks beauty in every season. It is the solid pathway under our feet, and it is the conduit of blessing when, by grace, we call it to mind.
What about you? What is your most imposing obstacle to gratitude in this season of the year?
In this season of life?
What can you “call to mind” that will change your perspective, usher in hope, and make way for gratitude?
Michele Morin is a teacher, reader, writer, and gardener who blogs at Living Our Days. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for nearly 30 years, and together they have four sons, two daughters-in-love, and two adorable grandchildren Michele is active in educational and women’s ministries with her local church. Her writing has appeared at SheLoves Magazine, The Perennial Gen, (in)courage, Living By Design, Desiring God, and elsewhere. Michele laments biblical illiteracy, finds joy in sitting around a table surrounded by women with open Bibles, and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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