“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.”
Sarah Ban Breathnach
Ann Voskamp is the wife of a pig farmer in Canada. In 2010 she released what I consider to be a spiritually brilliant book—it has helped and challenged and lifted me in so many ways. It is not an ordinary book. It is one of those books that grabs you by the lapels of your soul and pulls you back to God and back to reality and back to sanity and back to joy. The book is entitled One Thousand Gifts.
Ann set out to write down 1,000 gifts that God has given to her and in so doing to cultivate a heart of gratitude and come into great connection with the Father Who has blessed her so richly. I should say that Ann is wonderfully blessed by God but that she does not lead a charmed life. She is a farm wife with 6 kids whom she home schools. Her farmer husband is fighting to keep the family fed and keep the farm in very hard economic times. Her life, like ours, has plenty of hardships and challenges. Her life, like ours, brings her to bed at the end of many days fully exhausted.
In her book Ann argues that one of the core routes to joy and sanity is cultivating an inner gratitude that is fully connected with who God is and with all that He has done for you. And, He has done a great deal for her. To be sure, He has done a great deal for you even if you are in a very rocky place right now.
The core of this book is built around the Greek word “eucharisteo” which means “to thank or to give thanks.” The noun and adjective forms of this root word mean “the act of giving thanks, thanksgiving, gratitude, thankfulness, and mindful of benefits.” The root word can also speak of “the gentle cheerfulness of a grateful heart.”
Here is how Ann explains this heart of thanksgiving.
“The root word of eucharisteo is “charis”, meaning “grace.” Jesus took the bread and saw it as grace and gave thanks. He took the bread and knew it to be gift and gave thanks.
But there is more, and I read it. Eucharisteo, thanksgiving, envelops the Greek word for grace, charis. But it also holds its derivative, the Greek word chara, meaning “joy.” Joy. Ah…yes. I might be needing me some of that. That might be what the quest for more is all about—that which Augustine claimed, “Without exception…all try their hardest to reach the same goal, that is, joy.”” (Page 32)
And so when we cultivate a heart of thanksgiving, of eucharisteo, we recognize the gifts and grace we have been given. We draw near to the Giver. We experience joy. We stop focussing on what we do not have and what we want. We stop thinking that these things will make life good for us.
Life is already good for us. It is good for us because of Who God is and because of what He has done and because of how He feels about us. We can declare with Asaph, “The nearness of God is my good.” (Psalm 73:28) And, we can make that declaration at any time.
As part of the discipline of cultivating a heart-level eucharisteo Ann Voskamp began a list of 1,000 things for which she was thankful. Each day she intentionally watched for the things that spoke of the Giver and of His grace and of His joy.
Here are some of her eucharisteo items:
- Morning light across old floors
- Jam piled high on the toast
- Cry of blue jay from high in the spruce.
16. Leafy life scent of the florist shop
17. The creak of her old knees
18. Wind flying cold wind in hair
37. Windmills droning in day’s last breeze
38. Wool sweaters with turtleneck collars
54 Moonlight on pillows
55. Long, lisped prayers
56. Kisses in dark
119. Still warm cookies
243. Clean sheets smelling like wind
362. Suds…all color in sun
Ann’s book and her list inspired me to pursue God through eucharisteo. I want more of God and more joy and more connection with the grace and gift in my life. I want more spiritual sanity.
- The Father
- The Son
- The Holy Spirit
88. Egg Nog
154. Paper, pens, pencils, journals
207. A cool, clear, fall morning—and Saturday morning to boot!
220. Being able to walk
241. Watching people finish well
248. My gray stocking cap—warm, soft, comfortable
249. An elder meeting that works
250. The smell of black coffee brewing at 5:30 AM
I am up to number 255 and the points of eucharisteo come so easily when I am just paying attention. The discipline of paying attention is helping me in my walk with God.
Ann’s list is good but her book is more than a list—far more. It is a primer on gratitude and sanity and grace and joy and connection with God.
Today is Eucharisteo Day. Would you read the book? Would you start your list? Would you be intentional about gratitude and sanity and grace and joy and connection with God?
I’ll help you get started:
- Eucharisteo Day.
- A computer on which to read this post
Just pay attention. The other 998 will come to you easily.