I’m not great at keeping a daily gratitude practice—or a daily anything practice, really. But I do enjoy putting together a little Thanksgiving gratitude list once in awhile. (Like here and here.) It allows me to reflect on the blessings in my life and also to have a humor column when my brain is not feeling particularly creative or funny. So those of us in the United States prepare for Thanksgiving, and as we all seek to find spots of joy in the midst of struggles and stress, here are a few things I’m grateful for this year:
–I am grateful that my husband changed his alarm sound from a traditional beeping to a more soothing chime. It still wakes me up at a ridiculously early hour (because school teachers apparently have to be at school when it starts, whereas most days I don’t really have anywhere to be until noon or so). But with the soothing chime I can usually go back to sleep for a bit—or at least fade in and out of a weird early morning dream state where I am writing my sermon (or blog post)–and then get really disappointed when I fully wake up and realize I have not, in fact, written a spectacular sermon connecting Hamilton to the Sermon on the Mount.
–I am grateful for the bathroom vent fan. For obvious reasons, of course. And also because turning on the fan in the bathroom is more effective than hanging a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door if you JUST NEED A MINUTE. I can flip on the fan and finish that mystery novel or do a Sudoku puzzle or write a sermon or watch the unbleeped versions of Trevor Noah clips on my phone and nobody bothers me! (Caveat: This was not true when there were young children in my house. Young children do not understand or care about bathroom vent fans, “Do Not Disturb” signs, or closed/locked doors. But it works like magic for teenagers and beyond.)
–Speaking of Trevor Noah, I am grateful for people who can be funny about politics. Watching YouTube clips from late night talk shows has been a form of therapy for me this year. (I don’t watch the actual shows—they’re on too late.) I know that the actions of our government officials have serious ramifications for our country and our world; that most of the policies coming out of Washington are harmful to our planet and to the most vulnerable people in our communities; that the rhetoric from the president is emboldening racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, and homophobic actions. Trust me. I know. I read about it and think about it and talk about it and preach about it and pray about it every day. Sometimes I need to laugh about it. Because something can be both serious and ridiculous at the same time. And also because endorphins.
–I am grateful for a laughter-filled worship planning meeting at the nursing home where one of our worship team members lives. Where my suggestion of a simple dove visual turned into plans for a 3-D flying dove robot that would poop rainbows on the congregation. (BTW, if anyone knows where we can get a flying, rainbow-pooping, dove robot, let me know.)
–I am grateful for the relatively flexible schedule that I have as a pastor. Sure, going to evening meetings and weekend workshops and getting late night calls and texts can be stressful, but I have to remind myself that there are distinct benefits to having some open times during the day. Like today, for instance, I just stopped in at the medical center for a mammogram. Because I could. (And also my doctor said.) Once in awhile I even do fun stuff during the day. But mostly it’s mammogram kind of stuff—it needs to be done so I do it and I wonder how people who work 9-5 kinds of jobs manage their lives at all.
–Finally, not to spiral into materialism here, but I am grateful that the church I serve has completed a building expansion project and I now have my own office. I do not share it with the secretary. And it never used to be a closet. It’s an actual office with a funky desk and blue blinds and an Ikea pegboard and a tea cart. When I need something practical, I can walk through the magic pocket door to the secretary’s office where she has a big oak desk with actual drawers to hold actual office stuff.
I pray you are finding things to be grateful for in this season, and beyond.
Rev. Joanna Harader serves Peace Mennonite Church in Lawrence, KS. She posts musings and worship resources (none of which involve rainbow poop) on her blog, SpaciousFaith.
RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.