Tuesday, May 17, 2011

In the sanctuary of now

As I read through Ann Voskamp's One thousand gifts, I lean forward on tiptoes, as if peering into my own soul, but through someone else's words. There are just too many things to behold, too many to take in with one sweeping glance. I've got to slow down, savor, digest, nourish myself.

She refers to the mystery of eucharisteo often, as in giving thanks, drawing forth conclusions that gently pound truth from my mind, deeper and deeper, reaching for my heart. Some things make me want to raise my hand and wave it around, like, That's me! You're talking about me...

"Is this eucharisteo the way to that elusive fullest life, the one that lives in the moment? What my sister urges when I get angsty and knotted about tomorrow, when I sorrow for what is gone, her words always tugging me to stay right here - 'Wherever you are, be all there.' I have lived the runner, panting ahead to worry, pounding back in regrets, terrified to live in the present, because here-time asks me to do the hardest of all: just open wide and receive."

Yep, I've been that terrified runner. Dreading the future, sorrowing over the losses, pounding back the regrets, afraid to stand still. Afraid to receive what's in the here and now because I'm not sure I want it, not sure I can trust that it's good. In more honest words, if I can trust that God is good, that the gifts - all of them - he gives are good. Even the ones that wound.

It was just five words. Five words that my hungry eyes grazed over today as I sat reading outside on the sidewalk, in the sunshine, this afternoon on my lunch break. Five words that arrested my thoughts:

"Thanks makes now a sanctuary."

The practice of thankfulness in my here-moment immediately ushers me into a sanctuary, on holy ground. The moment is no longer just a moment, but a holy moment. A sacred moment. A moment to slow down and, with wide eyes, gaze at with wonder and enter into with gratitude.

I walked back inside my work building from the near-blinding sun and my eyes were no longer adjusted to the comparative dim light inside. For a few moments, the light was my normal, my reality, dancing in my pupils, while the dimness was the artificial environment. I smiled at my wincing. In this moment, I was thankful. I carried these moments into the rest of my work shift, and it was actually surprising to me how much more I enjoyed the rest of my shift. Instead of bemoaning the fact that I was inside, a prisoner gazing with longing at the sun and life outside of this building, I told myself this was my moment. Live here, Amber. And I did, with joy. It felt good.

Baby steps to a full life.

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