One River Gives

One river gives
Its journey to the next.

We give because someone gave to us. / We give because nobody gave to us.
We give because giving has changed us. / We give because giving could have changed us.
We have been better for it, / We have been wounded by it—
Giving has many faces: It is loud and quiet, / Big, though small, diamond in wood-nails.
Its story is old, the plot worn and the pages too, / But we read this book, anyway, over and again:
Giving is, first and every time, hand to hand, / Mine to yours, yours to mine.
You gave me blue and I gave you yellow. / Together we are simple green. You gave me
What you did not have, and I gave you / What I had to give—together, we made
Something greater from the difference. 

“When Giving Is All We Have” by Alberto Rios

My heart is full of gratitude as I write this—even though this year has been full of layers of loss and heartache and grief. The ups and downs of grief have really taken their toll on me over the past year, and some days I have really struggled to keep going. At times, I’ve just wanted to crawl into a hole and sleep for days. But my faith—and my family and friends and my church—have kept me moving—and loving and hoping—even when things seemed bleakest. And today—Thanksgiving Day—has brought me great joy: Drinking coffee. Feeling the rain on my face. Eating pie. Watching movies with Clivie snuggled up next to me. Walking in the fresh air. Holding my Jeanne’s hand. Talking with family far away. Soaking up the rich fall colors.

It has been scientifically proven over and over again that noticing and expressing gratitude—often for the “smallest” things—lead to stronger relationships, better sleep, lower blood pressure, fewer trips to the doctor, fewer depressive symptoms, more patience, and more perseverance, among many other benefits. So, I am going to do my best to pay better attention. To notice and relish the “small” things that make life lovely and fill my heart. And I am committing myself to better expressing my gratitude, too. Perhaps I will start a gratitude journal. Perhaps I will write more thank you notes. Perhaps I will lift up prayer throughout the day—a spoken-word gratitude journal! I want to cultivate an overflowing garden of gratitude. Matthew’s gospel reminds us that “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” And because one of our most precious treasures is our time, I know that how I spend my time will greatly affect the health and well-being of my heart.
Even when we journey through life’s great difficulties, there are blessings and gifts that warrant our deepest gratitude. Won’t you join me in noticing and expressing thanks for the bounty surrounding us?

See you in church,
Christy