Gratitude Lists are popular for good reason. They not only lift your spirits, they fulfill your ultimate mission, “to glorify God and enjoy him forever,” or as poet Mary Oliver puts it, “Instructions for / living a life: / Pay attention / Be astonished / Tell about it”. Sometimes, though, our lists can get in a rut, and a different focus can be helpful. My idea today is to list—and be grateful for—the “weeds” in your life.
Weeds in the garden or by the roadside are more likely to be objects of complaint than thanks, but they are also evidence of life—tough, abundant, aggressive life. They point to the existence of soil, water, and sun. In the same way, some of the things we complain about are also evidence of life: dishes to wash mean abundant food, diapers to change point to wonderful new people. This Thanksgiving, I’m going to try listing my “weeds” in my journal. Another Mary Oliver poem, “Praying” says this:
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.