by Rev. Garrett Andrew
I had to wake Langston one recent morning. Time has not yet changed and it is dark in the morning, really dark. He looked outside and told me, “Dad it isn’t morning yet, it’s still dark outside.” Sometimes we have to get up too early, sometimes the light isn’t out, soon time would change. I explained those things to him as I was trying to get ready, and soon we were all in the car headed to school.
Well the nice thing about getting up before the sun gets up is the sunrises. I am not sure I will ever be a morning person, but there is something about watching the sun rise, the black skies turn grey, then purple, then shades of orange, red, and blue. We were driving and the clouds were high up and catching the sun’s rays and playing with them as only clouds can do. Reflecting the light this way and that way the clouds became bright oranges shaded by purple hues. Langston from the back seat said, “Do you see that dad?”
Not knowing where he was looking I could not be sure what he meant, “See what Langston?”
“Do you see the clouds, they’re beautiful!” What made me excited was that I was looking at them too, I am proud of that boy for being able to see the beautiful and be thankful. I do not know if he knew he was being thankful or not, that probably comes with age, but he was. To take a moment to notice something in the midst of the rest of the world I think that is gratitude. To choose to discover something worth rejoicing about even as we are headed to school and waking up too early, that is gratitude.
I enjoy having children the ages that mine are. They see things with childish eyes. There is so much to discover, so much joy to be had, so many brilliant things to see I pass right over. Sometimes they want to show me something and I do not feel like I have the time. Sometimes I am simply trying to do something else. Some other times a spark of wisdom ignites within me and I go to check it out. I go to see the toad, or grasshopper, or the new toy, or the fort they built, and they are so glad that I am with them and I am glad too. I am grateful that in the midst of all the busyness that I chose to take a moment and be glad.
In my line of work I sit with people who are near death more often than many people I bet. People have told me their regrets and their celebrations, and after nearly 8 years of hearing those final moment confessions I know something that I imagine must simply be true. No one has ever told me they wished they worked more. No one has ever said, “You know what preacher, if only I spent more time in the office.” I have heard a lot of people say, “I regret not spending more time with my children.” I hear several people say, “I wish I spent more time traveling.” People look back on their lives and they regret not having fun, nor taking moments to be filled with gratitude, nor being thankful that in this world full of mess and muck and mire there is also beauty and joy and grace.
Here we are at Thanksgiving and I suppose we have a choice. “Rejoice in the Lord always,” Paul once wrote. He wrote that in prison, when the people reading it must have been, “Really Paul? You must be crazy.” In case someone thought that he said, “Again I say rejoice!” As I have studied that passage I have come to think that he did not write it with a smile and laughter, but maybe instead with a deep seeded gratitude. We have a God who defeats death, and who looks at what is possible and says, “I dabble in the impossible.” Paul had lived long enough to know these things, and so he chose to live with gratitude despite living in a world with chains keeping him locked up. And you know what? It made all the difference. God is good, and through God’s grace maybe we can choose gratitude too.