“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought;
and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” -G.K. Chesterton
I gathered the shirt arm holes up like a panty-hose leg one at a time, left arm then right. My two-year-old’s blonde tuft of hair popped through the shirt’s red circular neck hole. He looked down at his chest and then up at me, his face gleaming. The Spider Man on his new hand-me-down pajamas had him buzzing, electric.
Like a dart, he spun away from me and shot fake spider webs, “Pew, pew, pew, pew,” he said with each wrist thrust.
My four-year-old daughter and I couldn’t quit grinning; this was cute stuff.
“Mama,” she said elbowing me, “I want Supergirl pajamas.”
Turning away from our little spider web shooter, we went to the one place guaranteed to help us hold onto this joy and give us lasting peace and happiness, Amazon.com.
We scrolled through pink and red, white and blue options, each one cuter than the next, but we were stumped again and again with sizes too small for my growing girl.
“How about this,” I said placing the phone down on the colorful bed quilt, “I’ll check tomorrow at Target and see if they have your size.”
“Okay,” she said looking disappointed but hopeful.
The next day I found myself in the Target girl’s section, turning hangers like pages of a book.
My Little Pony. . . No. Dora the Explorer. . . No. After the pajama rack came up empty, my eye caught the corner of a shiny-silver “S” in the shirt section. Its soft gray arms were covered with stars, the perfect Supergirl shirt for C, just right.
As I checked out, the cashier in red said, “Find everything?”
“Yes,” I said, with growing excitement for the trip home.
But sometimes our thoughts are dual and wrong from both ends, and the third way is the only way as the only thing left to do is do nothing. So I rubbed her back, kissed her head, and headed out of the room to wait out the storm.
And in that moment I am and am not grateful. Sometimes we bring our offering, our best efforts to the world, and the results aren’t results as much as they are a mess. I heard a speaker say recently that if we lean hard into our deep-seated beliefs, they often give way. And while that has been true for many things, others don’t shift no matter how hard I lean and kick and punch into them.
One of these is gratitude.
But the problem is that sometimes it doesn’t “work” right away. It’s a slow burn, one that rewards “a long obedience in the same direction” (in the words of Eugene Person). The reason why our gratitude doesn’t always work is that sometimes it is working upstream. It is taking its time working on us, training us to see things that weren’t there before. Sometimes we’re too busy seeing how what we’ve got today isn’t pajamas, so we’re blinded to the shirt that’s actually pretty cool right in front of us.
Morning coffee on the deck with friends
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