Friday, November 2, 2012

How the Walls Come Down

It will be like chipping away at an old wall, a battlement built up slowly and added to, piecemeal, over the years.  Fortified by fear and worry and that never ending thirst for control.  There will be no catastrophic collapse of this old thing, no ram's horn blast and battle cry to reduce it to rubble at my feet.

It must be undone bit by bit, I tell myself.  This wall of discontent must be disassembled stone by stone, each piece knocked loose by one blast of gratitude, of peace, of contented release.  It will be work, this dismantling, the endless, exhausting work of letting go.  It will be day in and day out of raising my eyes to the heavens, opening my arms to my own helplessness, accepting the blows of failure and sadness and loss unprotected.  It will be coming out into the open, exposing my back to the elements, and picking apart this wall with dirty, calloused fingers.

{Image Credit}
This morning, I stopped on my way into the office to watch the moon.  A thin veil of clouds was moving across the sky, flying past the moon and being cast in a blue-tinged halo that wrinkled and shimmied with movement.  I stood still on the sidewalk and watched those clouds, in such a hurry to get where they were going, and the faithful moon inching slowly, confidently across the night sky.  The moon would soon be blotted out by the sun, and likely those delicate clouds would be burned away, too.

It was beautiful and fleeting, and it had nothing to do with me.  The sleepy moon could not feed my hungry body, could not warm my cold skin, could not give my head a soft place to fall.  And yet, it warmed me though and fed me and held me, that sight.  It made this fledgling gratitude muscle flex hard like a spasm deep in my stomach.

And just like that, I was marching around that old wall, blowing my ram's horn, readying my battle cry.  Perhaps it's not piece by piece, I thought.  Perhaps it's a brittle thing, this tendency to be dissatisfied, and it will be blown open, blown apart by one echoing, guttural yawp of gratitude.

{Image Credit}
When I thought about it later, I almost laughed to myself at the simplicity.  I was going about this whole gratitude thing like a ledger.  I would write down all the ways God has poured richness on my life.  I would see the richness that was already there, and I would finally be satisfied.

But, perhaps that's why it has always felt like being grateful was an assignment, because I was making the whole thing about me.  What I have, what I am, what I think.

This morning, I saw something else about gratitude.  Maybe it's about anything but me, maybe it requires turning away from myself and looking out.  Maybe it's not about believing I have enough things, not about letting go of competition, not about getting a higher view of my circumstances.  Maybe it's about remembering how small I am, about the privilege of drawing breath under a sky of dancing clouds, bathed in moonlight, and suddenly seeing more clearly than in the brightness of midday.  Maybe it's just grace in a different cloak, a glimpse of the gap between what I deserve and what I have received.

So, for now, I will be here walking around this wall, blowing my ram's horn and believing the wall will fall.  Soon, it will be time for the battle cry.  The air is thick with momentum, and the stones are already rattling in vibration.  And I take in a breath, deep into these miraculous lungs, and prepare to pitch my voice into the sky. 


{This month, I am writing on the topic of gratitude, keeping a gratitude journal, and generally wrestling with that insidious tendency to think there is always something missing. I hope you will join me in this month of giving thanks.}


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