I am at the airport getting ready to fly to Iceland. I’m feeling too anxious to even think about composing a new blog entry before my flight departs. So, I looked through my journal entries from my silent retreat again. (I may have to do this periodically when I don’t have time to write something new.) I came across something I wrote in June that I could have written today because I’m feeling the same way – so incredibly grateful for my life. In 2001, our family took an RV trip around America together and I’m experiencing the same overwhelming gratitude for the gift of this Camino pilgrimage. I would love to share those journal entry words of my heart with you.
“The most moving and beautiful moments of the morning were when I began reflecting on the Family Dream trip. I was overcome with the joy of that adventure. The blessing! I relived so many of the moments: Factory tours! National parks. Times with relatives. Historical sites. RV parks. Oh, so so rich and abundantly, extravagantly gifted to us.
After rehearsing/reliving the FD trip, I looked back over my life at the enormity of blessings I’ve been given to experience. So much abundance of blessings. Lavish freedom and opportunities. Trips around the world with my mother, Nanny and Aunt Madeline whenever I was working overseas. One-on-one times with each one of my children on so many of my travels. Work that I enjoyed. Ministry that was meaningful. Delight and time to be a stay-at-home mom. Happy and deep relationships with my children and Steve. The gift of having experienced the kind of unconditional love and friendship with Ney. Sweet childhood memories of school and vacations and family. Joy of discovering acting. And, underneath all and above all, the initiating love of God ever drawing me into deep and intimate and daily relationship with Him.
I was overwhelmed with gratitude and moved to tears. Happy tears but with a low-grade pang underneath them. The sorrow I felt was in the impossibility of expressing my gratitude. There was nothing I could offer back to God to show how much I appreciate and acknowledge the, objectively, blessed life I’ve lived and the abundance of blessings I’ve been given and have been blessed to experience. I longed to somehow offer anything that would express the depth of my appreciation. I cried at the awareness that there was nothing. No amount or beauty of words could come close. If I sobbed buckets of tears of emotion to attempt to match my awareness of undeserved, unearned blessing, I couldn’t come close.
The closest I could come would be to simply receive the gift. Enjoy the gift! Know the gift. That would bring God more joy than tears or praise or works or any other attempt at giving something back in exchange for all that He has given me. In the beautiful words of Andrae Crouch, sung at my wedding, “How can I say thanks for the things you have done for me. Things so undeserved that you gave to prove your love for me. The voices of a million angels could not express my gratitude. All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe it all to thee. To God be the glory. To God be the glory. To God be the glory for the things He has done!””
As I reread this journal entry, I feel a bit hesitant to post it. I’m worried that it sounds braggy. Or that it could make someone else feel badly because they have not had as many opportunities. There’s a part of me that wants to follow it up with – oh, it hasn’t been ALL good. There have been really hard and low times, too. Bankruptcy, divorce, deaths, heartbreaks, etc. But, here’s the thing about those. In a weird way that only makes sense in the way God works, I would be able to write the same thing about those times. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for those experiences, as well. Certainly not in the middle of them! And not even soon after. But, once I’ve gotten on the other side – to the resurrection – which ALWAYS comes. Having walked long enough with the Lord, over quite a few decades now, I understand why He says to rejoice always.
So, I rejoice this minute. For the gift of this adventure. For the beauty, the blisters, the conversations, the steep climbs, the sunrise views, the albergue snorers, the cafe con leche, the long, lonely days and the moment I reach “the end of the world” in Finisterre. For the peace of knowing God will be home with my kids while I’m away. And, for the gift of you! Yes, to God be the glory for the things He has done, is doing and has yet to do.