This past summer, my kids and I decided to grow a garden. We planned on growing pumpkins, zucchini, corn, sunflowers and carrots—planned being the key word. By the end of August, our garden consisted of a few carrots, some dead zucchini and pumpkin plants, no corn and some gigantic sunflowers.
The carrots never quite made it to maturity because the kids kept feeding them to their rabbits. I forgot to plant the corn at the appropriate time. And the other plants fell victim to a heat wave and my brother-in-law’s puppy.
Granted, the sunflowers were over six feet tall and beautiful but, from my perspective, the garden was a failure. Instead of reveling in the fun my kids and I had working on the garden and what it did produce, I lamented my dead plants.
If you asked my kids, though, they would have called our garden a rousing success. They had grown something that fed their rabbits almost every day—although I can’t see how the rabbits enjoyed the carrots much, given their size. And the kids giggled each time they walked beneath the sunflowers that towered over them.
Blessings are a lot like my garden, I think. We often tend not to see them, even when they are right in front of us.
Now I know that my life is very blessed—a loving husband, four healthy children, my health and many other things. But to be honest, I can’t remember the last time I stopped and really took a moment to appreciate all the blessings in my life. In fact, probably the only time I do is when something tragic or unfortunate reminds me to do so.
Our faith grants us an abundance of blessings. We are surrounded by the love of Christ, offered forgiveness when we have done wrong, invited to receive the Body of Christ each week at Mass, welcomed and supported by members of our faith community and many others. The question is, though, do we take the time to recognize and rejoice in those blessings?
Even though Thanksgiving has come and gone, it's still important that we take time to count our blessings. Here are some other suggestions for ways in which we can remind ourselves that we are truly blessed:
Name your blessings. Sometimes even though we may know we are blessed, we don’t take the time to recognize those blessings. Take some time to name your blessings out loud. At dinner tonight, have everyone in your family name one way in which he or she is blessed.
Accentuate the positive.Focus on the blessings you do have rather than those you don’t. For instance, I could have basked in the shadow of those gorgeous giant sunflowers, but instead I focused on the things that didn’t grow.
Write it down.I recently reread Sara Ban Breathnach’s book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy (Warner Books). In the book, she urges readers to keep a gratitude journal where every day you write down five things for which you are grateful. I was surprised at how quickly I started recognizing things for which I am grateful.
Pass the word.If you consider someone to be a blessing in your life, let that person know. Tell your kids, parents, siblings or friends how much they mean to you and why
Be a blessing.Try to do something nice for someone today. It doesn’t have to be something big. Bake some cookies, give a card with a personal note or a framed picture of you and the recipient, or make a CD of some favorite songs. You’d be surprised how much such blessings will be appreciated.