On Halloween night I watched, with my husband, a film about two strangers surviving a plane crash is the extreme north and how the survival skills of the young native woman saved her pilot’s life. Her acts of kindness using her life skills of surviving in very low temperatures and blizzard conditions given for this man who hadn’t been, until this point, very nice to her, were very touching.
I awoke the next morning, thinking, I am waking up in a warm house. Many people wake up in places where they are cold as soon as they wake up. Many people live in locations where it is hot and muggy and sweaty when they start that day. The experience of waking up made me thankful. Furthermore I didn’t wake up with the flu that is going around. Nothing like feeling terrible to incite thankfulness for feeling good, don’t you agree? And so I realized, in the big scheme of things, this is a great day. I’m comfortable and I am not throwing up.
That movie was a very little thing, but, as I have discovered that in cultivating a heart of thankfulness we often learn that the little things in life are really the big things.
And when we realize little things are actually big, our capacity to become more thankful expounds.
The coffee that someone else prepares for us smells better, the snuggle from a child becomes sweeter, the mere voices of people that we love – even, or especially the wailing of a baby can be the sweetest music on earth. Things did not change – we changed. Our ability to appreciate our circumstances and be thankful has been increased.
And, as we are considering how we can become more thankful, what I have really become cognizant of is that the brightness of something good in my life is often brought to light by the juxtaposition of something either dark or bland right next to it.
There is a wonderful painting by John Singer Sargent of young girls lighting a candle inside of paper lanterns. The colors in the paper lanterns absolutely glow – it is very apparent there is a flame inside. If you put your hand over those lanterns, however, one notices how dull and drab the color around them really are. It is precisely those somber colors that make the colors in the lanterns come alive. If the whole canvas were bright and colorful, the lanterns would not appear to have fire in them. They would lose their brillance, there would be no vibrancy.
And so in this context, I’d like us to dare to think, what good things – things for which we can become truly thankful, have been brought to light by the somber, drab or boring things in life? Put another way, what good things (that we can now be very thankful for) were brought about through something difficult?
So while I thank God for all the good in my life I am reminded that my perspecitve has been shaped by the pain He has allowed me to undergo at times. This strengthens my faith, helps me trust Him more and gives me hope. Because nothing that I go through is merely random. It may take awhile for me to see good coming out of a bad situation. But God is the great conductor of life’s orchestra and someday every note will fall into place and we will all stand and listen and the magnificence of it all will take our breath away. Thankful.