Gratitude. It's an amazing discipline. The more intentional I am about cultivating thankfulness the more content I become. It affects everything, my interactions with people, my over all attitude, my felt level of happiness. Could this one simple thing be the secret of happiness?
This week I was reading to the kids the Bible story about the children of Israel complaining in the desert. God delivered them out of Egypt, great signs and wonders if you believe the story. All the nations around them were afraid of them. He personally was present in the middle of them in a visible pillar of smoke or fire and every single day there was manna for them to eat. And what happened? They started complaining about the food. Really. They started saying that it was better in Egypt because there they had meat, and melons, and cucumbers to eat. Who cares if Pharaoh enslaved them, killed their sons as they were born; let's go eat melons again. In hindsight it's obvious how incredibly stupid it would be to complain like that given the circumstances they found themselves in.
I read it with great drama and the kids were effusive in their criticism of the silly Israelites and their slavery to their appetites. But I wasn't finding it all that funny. I can't say for sure that I would not have been one of those standing in the door of my tent wailing because I was BORED WITH THE FOOD. Odds are I would have been. I would be the one on the epic journey wondering when we're going to get breakfast. That's why we all love the Hobbits so much, they inject a bit of realism into the whole story of wizards and kings and elves and such. Enough of that, I have a stomach to think about.
Later in the day the kids started to notice similarities between their complaining and that of the Israelites. Not their own of course, but they were quick to notice it in each other. As we walked to the store I spent time with the Girl talking to her about how if she spends all her energy focusing on the one thing that is wrong in front of her, it becomes so big that it takes up all of her attention, and crowds out all of the good things that she has to be thankful for.
It's the same for all of us I'm certain. I'm glad I'm finally learning to step back, broaden my focus again, and put things in perspective, and it is gratitude that makes it possible.
This week, by a complex series of events, we no longer have to move at the end of the month. This is such a huge relief. The neighbor with the new baby that I have been taking meals to is also the accountant here at this property. She quietly told me that the manager was having trouble meeting her occupancy quota for January and might be willing to bend the rules if I approached her. The next day the manager called me about our notice, so I asked, and contrary to every written company policy, and what I was told 4 months ago, she extended our lease for us. This is such a huge relief. I was feeling really overwhelmed by what was left to pack and move, especially since I didn't know where we would go so making decisions was really hard.
Also this week, just when we encountered a huge crisis with what's going on in Thailand, there were people who emailed out of the blue and asked how they could help. All I can say is that it feels a lot less lonely to know there are other people who will share the load with us.
Little is being adorable this week. She puts her fingers in her cheek and pulls them out into a grimace and follows me around "scaring" me. I make it really fun for her by shrieking in mock terror whenever she does because it is so funny.
The Boy is practising for his first solo performance. He practises all the time, and he is so easy to instruct, correcting and improving each time he tries. The sound of his little shaky vibrato and clear boy tenor sound on the high notes is just pure joy to me.
The kids helped me bake an apple tart. And oh it drove me crazy to let them stick their fingers in everything, but...I don't know if this will make sense, but I'm thankful that I let them help, even though I found it really challenging that day. I'm thankful I guess that I'm able to put those things aside to spend time with them, that they will have these kinds of memories because I was able to be present to them in that way. And it was really cute to have them all standing at the counter on stools stirring away and arranging the apple slices.
The gratitude community is here.