I have just finished, I hope, one of the busiest periods of my professional career. And I am exhausted. I have finished my first book, been on the curriculum revision committee at the seminary where I teach, created a brand new course and taught it this semester, had a lot going on in my church and personal life, presented at the meeting of my professional guild, and have taken on too many writing obligations than I should have. So I am beat.
But I am also so amazingly aware of how blessed I am. I have a family I love, a job I adore, students who inspire me, writing jobs that challenge and engage my mind, and I love to teach new and old courses alike. So I am blessed.
I watch friends and even family members struggling without jobs or suffering in jobs they do not enjoy or are not fed by. I watch colleagues struggling with job searches and reduced teaching loads. So I am thankful.
I have not blogged in a while because my writing was focused on my book. I have not felt good about it and have complained because I missed it terribly. But I hear friends and colleagues struggling to get what they want to say on paper and I am aware again how lucky I am to have these projects and contracts to write. So I am appreciative.
Many times, however, when I am busy and tired - I whine. Many times when I over schedule - I whine. Seldom do I stop - and just sit in gratitude and bask in the blessing.
So this past month I took on the Gratitude Challenge on Facebook. I wrote every day of the month of November about things I was grateful for. Some were silly ... like being thankful for ice-cream. Some were situationally based ... like being grateful for a fantastic sermon preached in class by one of my students. Some were family focused ... like being grateful for the heritage passed on to me from previous generations and the chance to pass them on to my son.
Some were about vocational and personal happiness ... like being grateful for a job I love and the terrific house that is part of my compensation and the chance to live in our wonderful community. And some were deeply personal ... like being thankful for the safety of my son when some friends of my niece were in a terrible auto accident. And some were intensely spiritual ... like being grateful for being part of my faith community in its inclusive, progressive, challenging, incarnational, and prophetic reality.
I am writing this after Thanksgiving week and at the end of the Gratitude Challenge on Facebook - a natural time to stop and give thanks. And I am immensely thankful for all of these things, people, situations, communities, etc. But today I also want to say thanks for keeping me busy, for making me crazy with deadlines, for my family and community, and for obligations that bless me and my vocation.
I may still whine and complain when I allow too much on my plate, but even in those times I want to stop and say thank you. I am grateful for my life - and all that is part of this fantastic existence that God has blessed me with.
Thank you, God for my life - in the craziness and in the calm.
Thank you, God for my family - in their lovely absurdity and in their caring.
Thank you, God for my faith - in the times of doubt and in the moments of certainty.
Thank you, God for my job - in the crush of papers and in the moments of grace.
Thank you, God for my church - in the challenges and in the growth.
Thank you, God for my parents - in their aging issues and in their spry youthful joy.
Thank you, God for my writing - in the moments it rocks and in the ones when it sucks.
Thank you, God for your presence - in all times and in all places.
Thank you, God, again, for my life - in the blessings and in the pain.
Thank you, God.