By Katie Choi
A few weeks ago, I had a meeting on the north side of town. I plugged the address into my phone’s GPS, and it took me on an unfamiliar route. On my drive, there was so much open country around me. I had my sun roof open to let in the sunshine and the warm air. I got to see farmland, rolling hills, trees with the leaves changing into fall colors. It was beautiful. Life seemed to slow down. I was taking in all that was around me, and I was grateful for that moment and for having the perspective to enjoy it.
Admittedly, most of my car rides don’t look like that. I don’t always leave enough margin to get from A to B without having to rush, drive too fast, and feel stressed on the way to wherever I’m going. I don’t think nice thoughts about the car pulling out in front of me, instead I put my time, my reason for hurrying, above anything that might be going on in the other driver’s day. I don’t notice the beauty of the world around me.
If I really reflect on this, these car rides are just an example, but they can be true of our whole lives. We can create space and opportunity to notice what’s around us, to practice gratitude, or we can rush around, missing life’s wonderfully simple moments. There hasn’t been too much certainty to cling to this year. Many outward constants have been stripped away, big life events cancelled or rescheduled, and normalcy changing all the time. Nothing that used to feel familiar is the same.
But, there is beauty in small things. There are small moments that demand our attention and can, if we let them, strip away distractions that might rob us from an opportunity of gratitude. What if a drive in a beautiful part of country could imprint upon your soul a peace and awe of the world around you in a way that filled your whole day with joy? What if an experience like that could combat stress or worry or conflict or anything else that might show up unwelcome at your door? Our days are made up of all sorts of small moments. These moments create countless opportunities for worship and wonder and gratitude.
This year has reminded me of this truth. But if you are anything like me, it takes many reminders and friends and other resources to sometimes drive home this importance.
I am reminded of this when I talk with a friend who has formed a relationship with someone in her neighborhood who might be counted out by many, where others might find it harder to extend love. My friend’s gift of her time and her kindness to love a neighbor reminds me of the power of community.
I am reminded of this when my two year old stops to stroke my fleece sweatshirt, smiling up at me because it feels so soft on her hand. Her happiness making me slow down to soak in and notice her new experience.
I am reminded of this when I reread a beloved book, Liturgy of the Ordinary, and the author calls attention to something that stood out to her in reading the Psalms. “The psalmist declares, “This is the day that the Lord has made.” This one…God, in delight and wisdom, has made, named and blessed this average day. What I in my weakness see as another monotonous day in a string of days, God has given to me as a singular gift.” These words reminding me to find wonder in the mundane.
What small moments are you around you that you are grateful for? What gifts have you been given? I pray that you will take notice of them and rest in their goodness, even if for only a moment. Happy Thanksgiving. I am grateful for you.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” Psalm 34:8