A different kind of grateful

by Steve Brock on May 24, 2012

The setting

My wife’s parents are in town, the first visit in many years. As I write this, today is Sunday. Our plan is to take them to church, come home, have lunch, show off a bit of Seattle, have some dinner, return home.

I tell myself I have no travel plans for this day. But then I wonder: At what point did I discount such a journey and decide that so short a trek no longer counts as travel?

Travel comes in journeys of all lengths and types…

The reflection

Before church I take a different kind of trip. I wander through the bible. I have no itinerary, no planned destination. Yet somehow, I arrive at Psalm 104. I peruse the lines until verse 28 seems to enlarge and beckon. I am drawn in.

In the previous verses, the writer describes the great works of God and His provision for all creatures of this earth. Then verse 28 reads, “When you (God) give it (food) to them, they (the animals) gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things.”

Those last six words capture me: How often am I satisfied with all the good things God has bestowed?

The idea

I can’t let such a thought go: when God alerts us in these subtle ways, we do best to respond. So today, I will attempt to notice those good things. To name them. Call attention to them. Invite others to join me. I will make our short trip into Seattle an exercise in gratitude, a hunt for good things.

The trip

It rains the entire day. Not your typical Seattle spittle but rain. Real, hard rain. The result is that we drive, beholding the city through car windows. I feel like the driver of a Greyline Tour only without the bus or the tourist stops.

  • We pass through neighborhoods I’ve never been to before witnessing houses with impeccable yards and enough curb appeal to make a realtor swoon.
  • We behold rhododendron plants the size of garbage trucks, blooms almost neon in their proliferation.
  • We circumnavigate a cheese festival at Pike Place Market each of us doing very bad Wallace renderings of “It’s the cheese, Gromit, the cheeeeeese.”
  • We pass the Seattle Center and glance at the new Dale Chihuly temple of glass in honor of…Dale Chihuly.
  • We wave at the passengers on a departing cruise ship as it leaves dock for Alaska.
  • We marvel at something as simple as the grid patterns of the raised drawbridge as we wait for it to descend and let us pass into Ballard.
  • We wonder about the history of the Freemont troll.
  • We laugh. A lot.

The results

I saw a city that is so overly familiar to me that I don’t really see it any more. I saw it anew for two reasons.

First, I went with the eyes of gratitude, hungry to be more aware of the good things I have been given.

Second, my in-laws saw and processed the city in ways totally different than I normally do. They saw with new eyes and as a result, so did I.

They helped me to see so many good things in the place I live and its environs. But as we drove home after a wonderful dinner, a wonderful day, I realized that though we barely left our vehicle this day, we didn’t need to.

What I was most thankful for – the very best things – were there in the car with me all along.

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