A “Personal Grateful List”

aA few weeks back in a blog on giving thanks I invited you to begin working on a “Personal Grateful List.”   The idea for this came from a nun who keeps one as a regular spiritual discipline.  She does it perpetually. I recommended it for the season, although, I strongly believe that gratitude is one of the surest indicators of spiritual maturity and that the discipline of keeping track of what you are grateful for can be no less important a tool for one’s spiritual growth than a list of answered prayers or a list of the people and needs that you are praying for.  Refusing to “traffic in unlived truths” – asking you to do something that I myself have not done, or, would not do, I have used these weeks before Thanksgiving to work on my “Personal Grateful List,” and I wanted to share it with you this week before Thanksgiving.  The format I used to help channel my thinking were some categories from an Anthony de Mello’s spiritual exercise called “Testament”

1. These things I have loved in life:

o       Things I tasted…

The sweet wine at my first Communion;                                                                                 
My mother’s enchiladas;                                                                                                    
The Lemon Cake from Johnson’s Bakery on Brand Blvd. in Glendale;                                  
A Bob’s Big Boy Cheeseburger;                                                                                            
The hot loaves of bread at the hall parties in college;                                                                       
Mormon Split Pea Soup;                                                                                                      
A cup of Starbuck’s Dark Roast Coffee;                                                                        
Oysters;                                                                                                                                
Hot apple cider spiced with red hots;                                                                                        
the Boysenberry jam at a certain roadside cafe in Port Orford;

o       looked at…

Mary Lynn’s  face on October 3, 1975, in Twin Falls, Idaho;                                         
Anna’s fingers and toes on the day she was born;                                                           
Danny’s eyes on the day he was born;                                                                                             
a sunset at Heceta Head Lighthouse on the Oregon Coast;                                                         
My mother’s radiant face on the afternoon she died;                                                        
Jerusalem from the top of the Mount of Olives;                                                             
The Grand Tetons in Wyoming;                                                                                                                      
The Impressionist Room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art;                                                 
The cinderblock sanctuary of the Church of the Holy Apostles;                                           
The rooftop of the Mt. Calvary Retreat Center in Santa Barbara;                                        
The National Mall looking toward the Capitol from the Washington Monument;       
the drive through Oak Creek Canyon in Arizona;                                                                    
Ceta Glen;                                                                                                                                          
The High Plains of Texas;                                                                                                        
The Flint Hills of Kansas;                                                                                                                      
The skyline of New York City;                                                                                          
Glenoaks Park across the street from 2601 Hollister Terrace in Scholl Canyon;
The patio room and backyard garden at 6503 Gretchen Lane;

o       smelled…

The incense at a sung mass in my childhood;                                                                                                      
Mennen Skin Bracer aftershave (what my dad wore);                                                                  
a fire in the fireplace;                                                                                                                
 a baby’s head;                                                                                                                         
a turkey cooking;                                                                                                                        
the ocean;                                                                                                                                 
fir trees;                                                                                                                             
oranges;                                                                                                                                
books;                                                                                                                                               
old churches;

o       heard…

the sound of rain;                                                                                                                                 
any Brahms’ Symphony;                                                                                                                            
the voices of my grandboys saying “Papa”;                                                                                                   
Billy Graham preaching;                                                                                                        
Larry Jay singing;                                                                                                                        
the Beatles on a transistor radio;                                                                                             
the moan of a train horn on the high plains;                                                                                                      
the sound of a baseball hit hard by a wooden bat;                                                      
cellos;                                                                                                                                                      
the purr of a cat;                                                                                                                      
Gregorian Chant;                                                                                                                          
listening to audible book while driving in my car;

o       touched…

Mary Lynn’s hand;                                                                                                                     
a leather bound  Bible;                                                                                                                        
the side of a pulpit;                                                                                                                    
babies during dedications in church;                                                                                                                    
the water of a baptistery;                                                                                                               
the breaking of the bread;                                                                                                                      
the embrace of a friend;                                                                                                                  
a baseball mitt catching a ball;                                                                                                          
a sleeping cat in your lap;                                                                                                                  
a firm mattress;                                                                                                                            
 a sturdy mug;

2.  These experiences I have cherished…

Growing up with my grandparents close by;                                                                        
Being raised in church;                                                                                                                  
Living in the same house throughout my childhood and youth;                                                  
Being allowed to question and decide things for myself;                                                                                          
Going to Northwest Christian College when I did;                                                                                 
Meeting and falling in love with Mary Lynn;                                                                                              
Coming to Texas;                                                                                                          
Being ordained at the church in Melissa;                                                                                        
Being Anna and Danny’s dad, and Drew and Nathan’s granddad;                                                        
Pastoring the churches that I have been called to serve through the years;                                                           
Getting my doctorate;                                                                                                              
Writing a book (and wanting to write more);                                                                                                                                      
Being a preacher;                                                                                                        
Teaching weekly Bible Study;                                                                                                                              
the leadership opportunities that I have been given in the General Church;                                     
My time at the monastery in Pecos;                                                                                     
Being with my mom and my dad when they died;                                                                   
Seeing Anna be a parent;                                                                                                      
Watching Danny perform on stage;                                                                                   
Painting icons with Peter Pearson;                                                                                          
Driving across the country;                                                                                                              
Going to Israel;                                                                                                                    
Being part of an interfaith conversation, especially with Rabbi Hanan and the Turkish Muslim community here in Dallas;                                                                            
Being at the same church now for 17 years

3. These people are enshrined within my heart…

Fr. Robert Spicer-Smith and Pastor James Krames, my first ministers;                                                                                               
Dr. William Richardson and Dr. Ward Rice, my first and best teachers;                                                                                                    
My paternal Grandfather and maternal Grandmother;                                                               
My mother and father;                                                                                       
Shelby Howell, Earl Manning and Aubrey Gearner, my “Elders”;                                                                                                 
Harold Cline and Ray Jones, Ministerial Role Models                                                                                                                           
Wally Reed and Zanne Ehlers, friends who are gone but not forgotten;                                                                                                                   
The Great Cloud of Witnesses from Pocatello, Melissa, Lubbock, Plainview, Houston, Amarillo and Dallas…

 

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