A Slow Gratitude

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Snow. Here in the South it can be a
h-u-g-e problem. Last week most of us found that out in a very personal way. I was caught in the storm about 60 miles from home and spent 2 days waiting it out in a hotel. I was very blessed. I watched on TV as the city of Atlanta became stuck in their cars on interstates, some of them for more than 30 hours. Many of the things and the processes we all take for granted each day became precious and scarce. For the folks in their cars things like food, water, warmth, and bathrooms became priorities of the first degree. Many more people, like me, were just inconvenienced. I missed a clean change of clothes, my makeup, and the comfort of my own bed. I had to slow down and think when I walked on the icy street. I couldn’t just hop in my car and go where I wanted, when I wanted. The snow had changed things and slowed us down.

This isn’t always a bad thing. For much of our lives we sort of sleepwalk through our daily routines. We have our morning coffee, commute to work, have lunch, work some more and come home again. And repeat. So long as the car starts, traffic keeps moving and we aren’t handed a pink slip, we can go through the weeks on auto-pilot. It’s only when something interrupts our routine that we wake up and look around us. For me, the snow made me incredibly grateful for those million things I tend to take for granted every day. My family being safe. My choices being within my control. Being able to make plans without having to consult a weather forecast. Of course what the snow really did was to remind us that EVERY moment of EVERY day, whether frozen or sunny, is in God’s hands. When we believe we’re the ones in control, we’re messing up in a big way.

Embracing our dependency on Christ is the first step on our faith journey. Every breath is His gift to us. All of our plans and agendas are dependent on His holy and divine will for our lives. When I hear folks talk about their “bucket lists” I grin a little. Yes, having goals is admirable but unless “heaven” is #1 on your list, everything else is meaningless. Yet when we place ourselves and our wills in the service of Christ, everything in life falls into an order that He creates in love for us. Snowstorms become an occasional inconvenience but aren’t the end of the world. We see how little it takes to upset our plans and put us in our places. And we realize once more that He holds the world in His hands. It reminds me of those little snowglobes you see at Christmastime. One good shake and the snow fills the scene with chaos until it settles into place again. It’s that time between the shake-up and the settling-down that we remember Who is in control.

Experiences like last week’s snow make us grateful: for family, for snow tires, for a warm bed and clean sheets, for hot water and enough to eat, for the helping hands of police and generous strangers. We can be grateful for a few days of slower and more deliberate living, for having some extra (if unplanned) time to think and to reflect. We’re grateful for the sun that returned to melt the snow and let us resume the rhythm of our lives. And we pray that we’ll carry that attitude of gratitude through these last weeks of winter, with all its challenges and surprises.

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”
—–Thornton Wilder

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