Friday, December 30, 2011

One Thousand Gifts...and Counting

I came across a new author and her first book this summer.  Ann Vos Kamp, a farmer's wife from Ontario, wrote a book about the gifts we find in life.  She has suffered a great deal of pain and loss in her life with the earliest memory being her 18 month old baby sister's death after being run over by a truck on the dirt road outside their home.
Vos Kamp met God in her late teens when she started going to church with a boy from her high school.  She married that boy when she was 20.  Her writing is poetic and soul-singing.  She reveals her heart and the innermost parts of her being in her book, One Thousand Gifts.
For me, this book is perspective-shifting...even life-changing. 
Is there a secret to figuring out life?  Well, it may not be a secret but it is hard to figure out.  A true, meaningful life can be found in the the process of "eucharisteo".  This word has three greek words woven together to give it rich meaning.
  • Charis- grace
  • Eucharist- thanksgiving
  • Chara- joy
The daily pursuit of eucharisteo is to recognize our blessings.  It's the progression from the realization of grace we receive, to the response of thanksgiving, to the fullness of joy we can experience.  God gives us gifts we don't deserve, we have thankful hearts, and we find ourselves overflowing with joy.  This is eucharisteo.

Now, this is not easy.  It's hard to see through the junk, hurt, disappointment of this world to the grace.  But we must.  To see through the thick layer of dirt on the windshield of life to the good and beautiful surrounding us is worship.  See the grace in the mess.  And give thanks for the speck of glitter in the mud.

“One act of thanksgiving, when things go wrong with us, is worth a thousand thanks when things are agreeable to our inclinations.”
Saint John of Avila

The next part of her book becomes a challenge.  It's not just to see the gifts.  She challenges her readers to write them, to make a record of thousand of them. This is not a challenge that she herself has not done.  Vos Kamp took on this challenge and shares some of her list.  She records things like the sound of clothes tumbling in the dryer, the shadows from sunlight across the kitchen table, the tiny voices from her children asking for hugs. She reached one thousand, but didn't stop there.
She shares that this challenge to write down and number one thousand gifts "becomes a dare to celebrate innumerable, endless gifts."  It doesn't have to stop at #1000.  And it won't.  Life-gifts are innumberable.  The hard part is for us to recognize them and focus on the grace, gratitude, and joy that should fill us and flow into the lives of others. 

Find the gifts around you, unwrap them realizing they are there by GRACE. 
Give THANKS and be filled with JOY.

1 comment:

  1. I've yet to read past the first few chapters of 1,000 Gifts (it was my waiting in the carpool line book for a while), but really would like to. Anne also runs an amazing blog called The Holy Experience, if you're interested.

    Hope all is well!