Enjoying the Day

Posted on 2007-08-24. Filed under: Quotes, Thoughts |

Here’s a quote from Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home that I wanted to blog so that I could reference it whenever I needed to relatively easily. I have been thinking of this quote a lot in the last day or so and it has helped me enjoy my day regardless of circumstances.

The prayer of adoration must be learned. It does not come automatically. Notice our own children! They do not need to be trained to ask for things. To get empirical verification for this, all we need is one trip with you children to a shopping mall or a supermarket! But to express thanks? That is a wholly different matter. What endless effort it takes to help our children cultivate a habit of gratitude.

The same thing is true for us. Thanksgiving, praise, adoration — these are seldom the first words in our minds…or on our lips. We need all the help we can get in order to move into a deeper, fuller adoring. The following stepping-stones will, I hope, help to mark the way.

We begin right where we are in the nooks and crannies, the frustrations and fears, of ordinary life. When we are filled with sadness, for example, it seldom helps to count our many blessings or rehearse the glorious attributes of God. We do not learn adoration on the grand cosmic scale by centering on the grand and the cosmic, at least not at first. It wears us out and defeats us to start in this way.

No, we start more simply. We learn about the goodness of God not by contemplating the goodness of God but by watching a butterfly. So here is my counsel: begin by paying attention to the little creatures that creep upon the earth. Do not try to study or analyze them. Just watch the birds and the squirrels and the ducks. Watch, do not evaluate, watch.

Go to a brook and splash some water onto your burning face. In that instant do not seek to solve all the problems of pollution and the ecosystem; just feel the water. Most of all, do not try to find God in the water or to make yourself be thankful for the water. Simply allow the cool wetness to refresh your skin. Now sit back and listen to the sound of the brook. Watch the branches of the tree overhead swaying back and forth. Notice the leaves fluttering in the breeze – notice their shape, their color, their texture. Listen to they symphony of rustling leaves and scampering chipmunks and twittering birds. Remember, I am asking you not to analyze, only to notice.

When we do these kinds of things with some degree of regularity, we, in time, begin to experience pleasures rather than merely scrutinize them. What this does within us is altogether wonderful. We are first drawn into these tiny pleasures and then beyond them to the Giver of pleasures. True pleasures are, afterall, “shafts of the glory,” to use the phrase of C. S. Lewis. As this happens, thanksgiving and praise and adoration will flow naturally in their proper time: “To experience the tiny theophany is itself to adore.” This is where we begin, but it is not where we end.

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