The spring sun shone brightly, warming cheeks and hearts. Snow glistened like crystals under its rays, and shadows formed under bare branches and life-giving trunks of sugar maple trees. I smiled as I watched children clamber on snowbanks, sliding down and bearing up again. Dead, brown leaves settled among tractor tracks and puddles formed. Spring mud beckoned children with its ooze. Mesmerized by dancing eyes and gleeful squeals, I forgot to scold. Childhood remembered, I delighted in the splish, splash of boots. Along with them, I revelled in the delight of "now" - melting snow, warmer weather and the promise of spring.
In my mind I formed entries for my "Gratitude Journal" begun in mid-February. I thought of what I read in another blog about all the lists we make - things to do, things to purchase, and things we want. Ann Voskamp @ Holy Experience began a different kind of list. She called it her "1000 Gifts List" where she recorded things she already has. Ann believes that "Love can only be patient when it is first grateful for what it is now!" She wisely discerned, "Where thankfulness flourishes, patience blossoms, and one reaps love abundantly."
Her words, I had read in late November, resonated with me. I understood the desire to be more patient, to be more loving. I knew all too well, the havoc discontent reeks.
I also knew well, the words in I Thessalonians 1:16-18 , "Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
Slowly over several months I knew I needed to develop my own "1000 Gifts List". I wanted to savour blessings, reflect on them, and give thanks for the lavish bounty God pours into my life. For six weeks I have journeyed this road. My life scenery has begun to change. I no longer see piles of laundry to wash, fold, and put away but little people who'll quickly outgrow the need for washing. As I pick up doll clothes, legos, and toy trucks, I rejoice for the gift of play and the full house I always dreamed of having. When the decibel levels reach an ear-splitting high and my auditory senses are in "overload", I remember the sound of silence and an empty house. I know one day I'll long to hear all this chaos just one more time.
So I look up at the bright blue sky and I thank God for this day. I thank Him for the opportunity to gather at The Tiffin Centre to experience the age-old process of making maple syrup.
I looked up and saw several Canada Geese returning to their northern home. They honked and my heart spilled over with thankfulness. Judy,one of our two guides for the Maple Syrup Tour said that the sap hadn't run all morning and had just begun a few minutes ago. The tap, tap, of the sap falling into the tin buckets from the spiles punctuated her words. Another gift from my Father's hand. And so... I learn more about gratitude.
We stood at a great sugar maple and discussed photosynthesis and how in winter the sap is stored in the roots of trees. The woodsmoke from the fire hung in the air. I found it comforting. Large trunks, hewn and roped together supported 3 large black cauldrons of sap boiling to make syrup. Pioneers began the March Break for that purpose alone. School children were off to make Maple Syrup and work together in families. Part of me longed for that sweet opportunity offered in times past. Yet I smiled at the now. I delight in being in the woods, here today, alive with brightly clad children, parents, and spiles, and buckets, rubber hose, crackling fire, and a sugar shack.
Marcus, our second guide, had the children singing a little chant. "Lotsa water, little sugar, boil, boil, boil. Out goes water, more sugar for the sap, sap, sap. They danced to the beat and laughter rang through the woods as we learned about the 40:1 ratio of sap to syrup. How fully alive I was right then, living in the moment, savouring the "now".
I want to notice, to savour His gifts, to dwell on them until the richness of my bounty seeps deep into the essence of my being. Oh, that thankfulness will absorb into the soil of my soul until it sets root and His joy flows through my trunk and branches out to touch all others in the forest of my life. May I warm those close to me like the coming of spring, not freeze them with the touch of indifference. That the sweetness of a heart that is thankful to her Creator will be like maple sap flowing from these trees - as ageless as creation itself.
I am thankful for our Canadian natives, the pioneers of our great country, Acadians and Englishmen alike. I am thankful for the past and present rolled into this experience of community today, the gathering of friends here under a great blue sky.
From gratitude overflowing my heart I share some recent entries of my 1000 Gifts List with you:
76. The smell of woodsmoke and outdoors on a sunny day... hearing Canadian Geese honk, mud puddles, and listening to the tap, tap of sap dripping into tin pails - sure signs of spring to those who are waiting, expectant with joy at melting snow.
77. Children, home again, playing with one another, from the oldest to the youngest - a chorus of five, chasing, frolicking like puppies. How much, the comaraderie, blesses this mother's heart!
78. Blinking and squinting from the brightness of the sun after many gray days.
79. Children clamouring with Saturday morning chores; cheerfully building responsibility and diligence. They look forward to some special opportunities this day offers once their work is done.
80. Little boy sleepers, soft and snuggly, silky hair, and chubby hands grasping Mama's face. Twin toddlers seeking morning comfort on Mama's knee, rubbing sandman from their eyes, perching atop bible and journal, oblivious to any discomfort. Both attentive as Mama chants, "The Itsy, Bitsy Spider" just one more time.
81. A coffee table strewn with bibles, journals, books and a floor littered with afghan, toys, and upturned stool. All signs of an evening enjoyed, early morning well-spent and this family living domestic chaos... in messy love centred in the 'now".
82. I praise God that now the mess is o.k. and I rejoice that I feel no need to apologize for the clutter. I'm thankful for this life I've chose and come to know so well.
And so I list the gifts from His hands. I savour their meaning and the joy each one imparts. I find contentment in the now and thankfulness begins to flourish. Spring is just around the corner and patience is preparing to bud . Already shoots are pushing through thawing soil. I look forward to one day reaping an even greater harvest of His abundant love.
Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow. James 1:17 NASV