I have on my shelf a paperweight.
It’s on the shelf because I don’t use it – but it’s too pretty to turf. A glass orb encasing a whorl of deep violet.
I guess paperweights once held down loose pages on desks. On a scorching summer’s day, Executive Director Whatsit might have flung open his windows to let the breeze through, making everything quiver and dance. Lucky he had that paperweight to hold down important budget documents!
These days, our desks have trays of incoming and outgoing left loose and free, without a thing to pin them down. The windows are screwed shut and air-conditioning doesn’t generally have the same gusty force. So, our paperweights sit as useless objects on shelves.
Until last week.
I’m reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, a New York Times bestseller (she blogs HERE). If you think my writing is flowery, you’ll think hers is positively botanical! She introduced me to a new – and better – way to handle the finite hours and minutes in a day that begs for more of me.
It’s so simple that it makes me feel simple to say it: giving thanks.
Being thankful to a microscopic scale – not reeling off the usual blessings-count of food to eat, a bed to sleep on, a roof over the head. Not all of us have those things. But all of us have small wonders to behold and Ann suggests that, by filling ourselves with thoughts of thankfulness we, “…slow time down with the weight of full attention.”
She goes on to write,
“I redeem time from neglect and apathy and inattentiveness when I swell with thanks and weigh the moment down and it’s giving thanks to God for this moment that multiplies the moments, time made enough.”
Balm for the soul.
I see my life as a flurry of moments, chaotic, like someone left the windows open and the budget documents are flying everywhere. I’m clutching at them, hurrying from one to the next but rarely pausing to give full consideration to the moment at hand. The now. And time flies to the breeze.
So I’ve tried Ann’s trick, giving thanks for the seemingly inconsequential, and she’s right. Time starts to stack up, a collection of meaningful moments, weighted with thanks.
I’m thanking God for the first day I’ve driven with my window down, for the smell of baby, for shoes in a row at the door, for too many bubbles at bathtime and books marooned on the floor.
The world looks different from here.
I’m understanding why the Bible gives so much airtime to thanksgiving. Over and over we’re told to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). But this weighing down of time, making my days feel fuller and more productive, this is new.
“This day is not a sieve, losing time. With each passing minute, each passing year, there’s this deepening awareness that I am filling, gaining time. We stand on the brink of eternity,” Ann writes.
Sallie, Lady Ferrall stepped over that brink into eternity and I was in the crowd of 500 on Tuesday as we farewelled a gracious, generous woman with a bold faith.
I was remembering the moments I had with her, and thanking God for them. Our wedding photos in her garden. Cucumber sandwiches and tea. Fixing my hair in her bedroom, bridesmaids pushing her bobby-pins into my hair. Her gentle way. Her looping hand in countless letters of encouragement.
In the space of a funeral the rain had turned to sun and I walked from the church, umbrella collapsed, heart unfurled.
Here was a woman who gained time eternal by living as Jesus did. Allowing the weight of every moment to be felt, heavy and true, adding – not taking away – to leave piles of sweet moments that her family and friends have the pleasure of sorting through.
The paperweight on my shelf is forever transformed. It serves now as a reminder to apply weight to my time by thanking God for every microscopic detail. Time is His after all. He started the clock – not to hurry us, but to carry us towards himself and eternity.
Thank you… for gasp of surprise, bare feet on grass, smile creases, tongue-tied sentences, dirt under a child’s fingernails…
First published in The Examiner Newspaper for Keeping the Faith column on Monday September 21, 2015.