Tonight my boys decided to strip off their clothes during dinner and declare a “Naked Dinner Night”. The grumpy adult in me started to scold them about the rules and regulations of the dinner table, but then something in me stopped. Time stood still.
I see Will squatting on his seat in his Lego Batman underwear, his lanky arms and legs wriggling about, still not quite sure how to control their movements after a recent growth spurt. I see Mikey – what remained of his toddler pot belly sticking out — and notice, maybe for the first time, that he has an outie belly button. An adorable little button to punctuate that precious round tummy. I hear their giggles and feel their freedom. And I remember what I have recently promised myself I would do more of – living in gratitude of the moments. Noticing. Not hurrying to the next thing. I silence the voice inside me that is ten steps ahead (“clear the table, rinse the dishes, wipe the placemats, get Mikey to go potty, re-dress the boys…”) and I try to enter into their silliness. “Okay, Naked Dinner it is! I only have one request – please keep on your underpants.” I figure I should at least teach them some manners. They grin and we dine – their pink, healthy bodies on display.
I have been reading a book called 1000 Gifts by Anne Voskamp, which fortuitously showed up at my doorstep as a present from my mother. In the pages of this book I have met a woman who is on a journey of gratitude. A woman whose faith hinges upon this word; and a woman who, like me, struggles with a faith that too often feels dead and empty. Her antidote to this hole in her soul that walls her off from God is gratitude. In response to a challenge, she keeps a journal in which she writes down one thousand gifts in her life. Moments given by God that bless. Finding such moment’s means she has to dig through the pain, the hurry, and the heaviness of life to unearth the treasures God has placed in front of us would we only ask to see them.
I am guilty of an habitually ungrateful heart. Not that I grumble and complain my days away. But I hurry my days away. I have shamefully spent a lifetime of living for what is next.
I’ll feel pretty when I lose a few pounds.
I can’t wait until I’m married, life will be so much sweeter with someone to share it with daily.
Ugh. I can’t wait for graduate school to be DONE. No more school hanging over my head.
I wish we had a home to call our own.
When are we going to start our family?
I just need to make it until he’s four-months-old. They say the colic will stop by then.
I’ll get to that when I am feeling better.
None of these desires are in and of themselves evil. Planning and dreaming of what “can be” are part of progressing as a person. But I have lived for what will be, what could be, instead of what is and it has wilted me inside. I have always recognized this tendency of mine and have tried to tackle my DayPlanner nature. But, until recently, I had never connected not living in the moment with ingratitude. Nor had I ever realized how this contributes to the ever gnawing fear that my faith is without substance, too prone to deadness of spirit… less than. How can I commune with my Creator when I refuse to accept each moment He gifts to me? How can I see this world for what it is if I hurry past it? How can I hear God whisper, “See me? I made this for you.” My life is full of projects, to do lists, responsibilities… and every day a part of me feels like I fail. I go to sleep shushing this haunting feeling that maybe, just maybe, I have missed the point.
Cowlicks in my son’s hair.
The smell of ground coffee.
Sweet snuggles in the early morning hours.
My husband’s skin next to mine, warm and smooth, as we drift to sleep.
Outie belly buttons.
What are my one thousand gifts? How would my life be different if I dared to enter into life at that level and took notice, paused time, stopped hurrying to the next stop? Who would I become if each moment I breathed, the joyful and the painful, were filled with prayers of thanks for…I don’t know… but I have a feeling that I need to find out.
I’ve decided “Naked Dinner Night” is a good place to start. Two precious, wriggly, giggly little boys. And a mommy who has so much to learn, but is starting with this moment.