Have you read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp? I've just looked through the first twenty pages or so, courtesy of Amazon's helpful "Click to Look Inside!" facility, but it's very high on my list of books to read. The theme seems to be thanksgiving in all circumstances. The Christian author has known tragedy and hardship; that much is clear from the second page of the book onwards, so this isn't going to be along the lines of "Isn't Life Just Wonderful?" Rather, from what I've already learned about the book, it seems to be encouraging the active practice of thankfulness. The habit of being grateful for what we do have, rather than focusing upon what we don't have. The idea of looking for beauty in life, and goodness, and things which can bless us, both big and small. And the author suggests that the reader makes a "gratitude list" of those things, to remind ourselves of what we have been thankful for each day, and to spur others on to do the same. This reminds me of the Thankful Villages, who were blessed by the simple fact that they had lost no one in either World War. What a wonderful attitude to take. How lovely to be able to look at life as it is, at this very moment, and to think, "Right now, irrespective of anything that I don't have (and might want), I am grateful for this thing or person that I do have."
The first twenty pages - and other people's reviews and recommendations - have encouraged me to read One Thousand Gifts as soon as possible. But I'd like to start the Gratitude List today! I spent this morning with one of my most cherished friends, who lives a short drive away from me. I appreciate her - and the fact that we live close to each other - so much. And for the first time in days, the weather is beautiful: there's a blue sky and gorgeous bright sunshine. I can dry my pile of laundry outside. It was ten times easier to take Joshua down to nursery school than it would have been in a shower of rain. And it was an enormous pleasure to walk home afterwards with the sun on my face. These are small things. But an active acknowledgement that they are there to be enjoyed, and have blessed me today, is important and life-affirming. Remembering what we have can somehow crowd out thoughts of what we don't have. It's a odd, but wonderful, concept. There's an infinite number of things out there for which we can be thankful day by day. What are you thankful for today?