I read 1000 Gifts two years ago and never finished it. Please don’t tell Ann Voskamp. However, I did get far enough in the book to understand how her 1000 Gifts list worked: keep a running list of everything you’re thankful for–everything. From soap suds to heart-wrenching conversations, she gave thanks, and she came to realize how intentionally being grateful slowed her life down. It opened her eyes. It made her see her life.
This is my second year of keeping such a list. I made it to 1000 around December last year and started over January 1. To date, I’m on #1475. There are some things that show up on my list frequently, and whenever I read some to JD, he laughs at how often coffee appears. And naps. #1476: Coffee and naps.
Along with Voskamp, I’ve noticed how it slows my life down and makes me see what’s going on. Sometimes I force myself to write down a moment or situation I’m not thankful for just so I can see it in my own handwriting and start making a case for gratefulness. There are days that ten things roll off my pen and onto the paper; there are days that I struggle to write one thing down. Each day has value. The significance is in the practice.
I’ve also found that a 1000 gifts list is helpful in remembering. Whenever I flip to page 1 and begin rereading what I’ve written, I walk through the months of the list. I smile at memories or write another thing on my list: #1477 That I’m not in that situation anymore. It’s renewing and purging at the same time, and for someone who struggles to keep a journal with more than one entry per month, it’s a quick alternative.
Besides, or perhaps beyond, the benefits of slowing down and remembering, the daily practice of gratefulness has been transformative in my life. Even in days of distress and depression, making myself find one thing to be grateful for is healing and head-lifting. But more about that later.
I’m starting a series that will appear on the first Saturday of every month for the next few months. It’s called 1000 Gifts: An Ode. Each month, I’ll write an ode in sonnet form (remember, sonnnets are 14-lined poems that are written in iambic pentameter, which means there are 10 syllables per line) to something from my 1000 gifts list. The post may simply be the ode, or it may have an accompanying explanation to it.
The purpose of this series is to practice gratefulness, remembrance, slowness.
Today’s ode is, appropriately, to Saturdays. It’s #11, 207, 459, 502, 559, 560, 696, 792, 1098, 1148, 1290, and 1438 on my 1000 gifts list.
Ode to Saturday
Warmed by coffee , the sun, today’s practice,
I stretch out my legs, and my soul, to wring
Out the week’s wrinkled forehead, to give rest
To tired eyes; my soul resurrecting.
I breathe, I write, I laugh, with them, alone,
Savoring Sabbath, the soul’s renewal,
Nodding off, no; nodding to the day’s own
Giver of new life, baptism’s portrayal.
Porch stillness only disrupted by songs
Of birds cooing to the other, to me.
Full of promise, slow, still, and before long,
I am new, an echo of jubilee.
It’s Saturday, the day of sleeping in,
Waking up, remembering I’m human.