My family and I are in the northern woods of Wisconsin at a camp called Fort Wilderness, a place during the last five years has become one of my favorite on earth. The scenery is divine, quality time with family and friends abundant and memories-in-the-making overflowing. In spite of the mosquitoes, I wouldn’t trade our time here for any thing in the world.
Normally at this time of day here at Fort, I’d be at the beach with my kids, taking turns flipping and twisting off the rope swing or swimming out to the floating dock to take a plunge off the 10-ft platform. Or maybe I’d be reading a book while catching some rays, chatting it up with my best friends while occasionally looking up to shout “Good job!” to the little ones or taking a kayak for a spin on the lake with my husband. Today, however, I’m sitting in the coffee shop trying to avoid the rain — same as yesterday and the day before. To say being cold and wet has put a damper on things is not only a bad pun, but an understatement. Oh, we’re making the most of it (my kids probably don’t know the difference), but the disappointment over what could have been is frustratingly real.
Here’s the irony: I’m doing a little experiment this week on nothing less than gratitude. For seven days, I’m keeping a journal, my assignment to write down ten things each day that I’m grateful for without repeating one throughout the entire week. Easy, right?
Except when I woke up on Day 1 of the experiment, cold and damp, listening to the drone of the rain on my nylon tent. My first thought was: Gratitude. Crap. This is going to be harder than I thought.
As the week has progressed and I’ve continued to write down my daily ten, I’ve been forced to contemplate — cold and wet — what true gratitude is all about. And who knew? I’m grateful for what I’ve been learning. I’ll be writing a piece for it next week over at Strangely Dim as part of some posts we’re doing about Mark Scandrette’s new book Practicing the Way of Jesus. I hope you’ll stop by and check it out.
In the meantime I’ll leave you with a nugget that someone shared with me today that has left me feeling particularly grateful. I hope it’ll leave you feeling the same, even, I suppose, if you’re reading it somewhere in the sun . . . warm, dry and unapologetically tan.
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one how condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
‘For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8: 31-39)