every year on new year’s eve, andy and i (and some of our dear friends) set personal intentions for the year ahead by giving it a name. ¬†perhaps the most significant year-naming for me was “the year of rearranging,” which resulted in this proud post.
but the year of rearranging is over. i am now 19 days into “the year of gratitude.”
if you are rolling your eyes with associations of new-agey, blissed-out, shallow pronouncements of happiness, designed to mask all that is wrong with this world, STOP RIGHT NOW. if you were thinking more along the lines of ¬†the dalai¬†lama, you can stop that too. sadly, he and i have little in common.
i simply found myself, during those last few days of 2011, on my knees (not praying but scraping already-chewed-gum off of the kitchen floor); having a mountain top experience (wherein i observed my children happily eating greasy goldfish crackers, on the couch, in my bedroom, under a two-weeks-high mountain of clean laundry); in the wake of a come-to-jesus-talk with my husband (that didn’t involve jesus at all but rather another baby, the third one that we won’t be attempting to have due to our divergent viewpoints about how many people we want in this household); and i realized that much of what enrages me about my life has to do with the way that i form, internalize, solidify, and live by GREAT EXPECTATIONS. and by “great” i mean sometimes soul-killing.
my friend, erika, gave me a little ledger for christmas where there is a space to name what i am grateful for each day. i confess that i have no idea where i put that thing. but it (and she) inspired me to spend the year taking an honest look at the beauty and bounty that is instead of the beauty and bounty that is not.
the best thing about the year of gratitude is that it does not come with any presumptions of forward progress. all i have to do each day is name one moment in which i witness a spark of the divine outside of myself and one moment in which i witness a spark of the divine inside of myself (the latter is the more difficult). i send these brief musings to myself in daily emails, which, unlike all of the other emails in my inbox, i do not expect myself to read unless i want to.
so far i have been grateful for things as shallow and profound as yoga, the bird’s third birthday, trader joe’s dark-chocolate-pistachio-covered toffee, our new montreat house, and this song. andy’s year-naming has given me much to celebrate as well, but more on that later.
this is less about an attitude change (though one might say that i need one!) than it is about clarity. both of my vocations, motherhood and ministry, take place where great expectations meet mixed messages about the value of tradition and the right way to do things. i cannot distill any of that into something that makes sense, but i can intentionally notice the good in my life.
it’s about doing something daily that is positive, not overwhelming, and just for me.