It has been nearly a year since I began keeping my "gift journal," in response to Ann Voskamp's "One Thousand Gifts." I confess I haven't reached the 1000, but I'm close and I still have four weeks to go, so I may get there. It's not that I don't recognize God's gifts all around, it's just that I don't always get them written down.
Now that the exercise of noting God's abundance is nearly over, I'm thinking about the next step. Will I keep going, try for another thousand? I won't. The habit of noticing is now deeply ingrained in my routine and the novelty of keeping a journal has passed. What I have done is re-read some of my entries, hoping they would reveal more about my relationship with God.
One thing I discovered is the importance of our five senses. As writers, we always reminded to use the five senses but reading over my journal entries underlines that precept.
Here's a sample.
Sense of touch. "Warm tiles beneath bare feet," "warm sun on
my back, soft dirt under my fingers," "a cool pillow," "silky, black cat fur."
Taste: "Strawberries and ice cream." "Coffee." "Fresh raspberries."
Smell: "A thousand hyacinths scent the air." "The scent of lilacs." "A cedar chest full of memories."
Hearing: "Newly washed towels snapping in the wind." "Wild geese honking overhead." "A tinkling stream."
Sight: "Blue sea - white sail, beauty like a shard to the heart."
" Butchart Gardens wearing a tulip dress." "Ebony sky
edged in silver." " Pink jet-trails in an azure sky."
Of course some gifts meet all the senses "Freshly tilled earth," is a gift to the eyes, the nose, and the fingers. It also invokes memories of the taste of fresh lettuce.
One thing that struck me as I read my list is the importance of colour. Over and over I remark on the astounding reds, greens, and blues of this earth. Then I'm amazed all over again at the subtleties of silver and grey and sepia and steel.
What a marvellous gift God has given in the ability to see colour. If you want to read about the science behind that,click here. Or just offer a prayer of gratitude.
My "Year of 1000 Gifts" has revealed much to me. I'm a singer, so music has always been important in my life, but since I've recorded the gifts of music, listening or performing, I realize what an astounding blessing God has given me with a voice to sing and ears to hear.
I've learned that the natural world speaks to me of God in every way. I cannot see a spider web, or a sunny dandelion or a snow-capped mountain without exclaiming, "My God is an Awesome God!"
There are also many notations thanking God for my relationships with family, friends, church . . . I have been blessed with wonderful people in my life. However, I tend to see people as people, rather than God's creation. For the next stage of my gratitude journal, I plan to focus on people and how they reflect God to me.
Of course, one of my greatest gratitudes is to Ann Voskamp for motivating me to find 1000 gifts.
So, what about you, dear readers? Are you inspired to record your blessings? Will you share?
Alice Valdal lives in beautiful British Columbia,
Visit her at www.alicevaldal.com or at facebook.com/#!/alice.valdal.5 Canada, where it is spring and she has her hands in the dirt again.