If my life were a road map, I would not be where I am by taking the fastest route. The lines on the map which designate roads would be filled with zigs and zags and curves and very few straight lines. At first glance, the map would seem to have impossible mountains to climb, rough seas to navigate, and valleys where the shadows of death pressed heavy on the earth. That is, if my life were a road map. As it is now, I am simply taking a journey that has led me, mostly, to be content, to have more than I deserve, and to be at peace with the path that I have taken.
There was a time after my first divorce that I lived with my parents and worked the night shift on a truck dock. I came home from work, woke up the next day, went to work, and repeated until the weekend, when I went golfing with my dad. Four years of the same routine. Four years of secretly wanting more. Four years of relative obscurity with regard to anything social. At night, before I fell asleep listening to this or that Bob Dylan CD, I would pray, as I still do, starting with the almost rote statement, “Thank you for everything you have given me.”
After that statement in prayer, I would wonder with God if there was more. I would wonder what I could do for a living different than what I was doing then. I would wonder if there was a woman in the world that could love me as a wife would love her husband. I would wonder if it would be possible to own a home. With God, I would wonder, not so much worry or fret, but imagine the possibilities for my life. My imaginings never reached the “planning” stage until much later, as I never quite saw how any of the things I wondered about would become a reality.
Every night, before falling asleep, “Thank you for everything you have given me.”
Ten years later, I still start my prayers with that same, almost rote, thanks giving. And to be honest, I spend a lot less time imagining the things that might be different for me. For the sake of honesty, my imaginings are more bewilderment as to how it is possible that I, coming from where I was, made it to where I am. My wife and I have had ups and downs, but our love has always given us reason to pause, find the love we have for each other, and continue on. I have had the honor of helping to raise three children, two of whom are now adults. I have a job that I enjoy and that gives me time to spend with friends and family. And even though we recently lost my mother, she was able to pass without having the dementia she saw her mother struggle through that she always feared.
So these are the things I am grateful for. These things, though simple to some, are things that I never thought possible. Meister Eckhart once said, according to Brainy Quotes, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough”. I tend to agree. Though I did not know his advice prior to my starting each prayer that way. I am grateful for so many things throughout the day. There are so many things that happen that benefit me and protect me which happen unaware, that I do not know all for what to be thankful. May we all find a peace that allows us to be grateful. And as a side note, please be aware, that when things seem bleak, there are always others, who when they say thank you to the Creator for “everything”, are including you as one of the things for which they give thanks.