Yesterday my thanksgiving was centered on the center: the love and grace of God. This morning, before we head off to our big family feast, I want to express my thanks for the smallest signs of that grace.
I thank God for the hungry chickadees, high in the mountains just as the winter snow was melting. By sitting quietly for several minutes, I draw then closer and closer with bread crumbs until they were sitting on my hand, plucking the crumbs from my lips. What an honor to be so trusted!
I give thanks for the seal that swam into the miniature cove as I stood 40 feet above it at the edge of the cliff. He did somersaults in the water, spun, dove, swam on his back — all for the sole purpose (I assume) of entertaining me. What a delight!
I thank the Lord for the tree that fell in the night while my wife and I were camping in the forest. suppose a tree fell and the forest and we were the only two people on the planet who heard it? Did it still matter? Of course it did. The Lord made that giant crash to break the silence just for our pleasure. And what a pleasure it was!
I give thanks for the poor rattlesnake I discovered with some friends. He had apparently just swallowed a rat or something and was trying to get back in a hole but his midsection was too big and he was stuck. We laughed, unkindly, perhaps, at his situation.
I thank God for the humpback whale who breached in front of Hana’uma Bay in Hawaii, clearing the water with all but one fluke. What an awesome sight! And for the three manta rays gliding down the shoreline nearby, the largest in front and the smallest behind. It seemed like a family out for a leisurely Sunday drive. How peaceful it was.
I am thankful for the moment when the swans, flying directly toward the setting sun, passed very low over me with the working of their breast muscles clearly visible in the direct sunlight. What graceful beauty!
I’m thankful for the fourth of July concert, outside at the edge of the lake. During the first piece of music a bald eagle sailed just over the head of the musicians and during the last piece the setting sun lit up the stainless steel cross across the bay while the deer grazed around its base. What perfect, divine choreography!
I thank the Lord for the beautiful double rainbow set against the dark charcoal-colored storm clouds that had just drenched me. And for the huge bull moose swimming near my kayak in the snowstorm the next morning. And for the spotlight of sunshine that broke through the clouds soon after, centered on the blazing yellow birch tree. I was in a northern wonderland.
I give thanks for a thousand such memories, none important but all too delightful to forget. And I gladly accept each as a gift from God. Irrational, you say? Perhaps so, but I’d rather have a heart overflowing with thanksgiving than a head that withers everything into meaninglessness coincidence. Fill my heart, O Lord, with gratitude.