To read part 1 in this series, click here.
There is no available parking where I work — so annually, I pay a few hundred dollars for the privilege of parking a half a mile away, where I catch a shuttle. Most mornings I arrive at dawn and take my place among my fellow commuters . . . and wait. And every morning the sun paints the eastern sky ablaze with colors dancing in the atmosphere. Colors that splash onto all of the clouds, making them appear as if they were Kabuki caricatures – some of them menacing, some of them playful. And some mornings the moon decides to hang about a little longer, I suppose, just to see how the other half lives — or perhaps, like a parent quietly watching to see what its mischievous child might be getting up to.
There’s a field just across the street, and some mornings it’s covered in a low hanging fog, floating softly in the half-dark as if held there by some enchantment. Then, of course, there is the ambient glow of street lights, whispering up into the trees along the roadside, where I imagine all of the squirrels are just waking up, sleepily waiting in their kitchens for the kettle to boil. And then there is the ever-present sound of car tires against the pavement — hissing their incessant complaints about the uneven roads and ill-timed traffic lights. All of this happening all around us – meanwhile my shuttle-stop companions remain held hypnotized by their smartphone screens. All this careless beauty – and no one to notice . . . well, almost no one.
Life offers us a relentless string of moments, each one precious and rare, imbued with their own beauty and significance. So either we attune ourselves to this persistently present wavelength of reality, or we allow the myopia of our own impermanent circumstances to steal from us the most humanizing details of our existence. We lose our ability to be grateful when we lose our sense of wonder – as these two are inextricably connected. For where there is no gratitude, an inconsolable discontent begins to move in and make itself at home – measuring every moment in terms of disappointment and regret.
Now, this is not about juxtaposing pessimism with optimism, as if it were merely a trick of cognitive perception — for gratitude is a disposition of the heart. It’s an almost involuntary response to the deeper truth – that life is a gift. But it is a gift that often goes unrecognized, given the curated way we live our lives, preoccupied and distracted – until something dramatically interrupts us, dispelling all of the illusions we carefully maintain.
Luke 7:36-50 tells us about a sinful woman, who unabashedly enters the home of a Pharisee in order to lavish upon Jesus adoration and gratitude – recognizing him for who he really is. She had been forgiven much . . . and she knew it. In contrast, the Pharisee assumed himself to be above the need of such forgiveness — so to him, Jesus was just another teacher . . . just another interesting distraction. While this woman could clearly see this moment for the life-altering experience it was — all the Pharisee could see was an unscripted interruption and a scandalous display.
But here’s the thing — we will never see the full beauty of who Jesus is, without a grateful heart. So every day is a choice we make to either see the wonder in the world God has created for us – or miss it entirely, seeing only the monotony of the world we’ve created for ourselves. But what if you lived in a world where you were constantly being invited to discover all of the many ways Jesus was revealing himself to you . . . could there be anything better?
Written by: Greg Doles
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on stillchasinglight.wordpress.com.
Featured Image by Miguel Angel