Having a Thankful Heart
In my preparation for Easter this Holy Week, I recall picking up Ann Voskamp’s bestselling book, One Thousand Gifts, for the first time. I was familiar with it as I had often read quotes from it in the Magnificat’s daily meditations. They were always profound, on target, and so naturally I was curious.
Additionally, I discovered that she wrote geography books, published by Knowledge Quest (now part of Masterbooks.com) whose owner is Terri Johnson. I have long admired, and worked with Terri ,and have come to know her as a soul sister with a generous heart and immense clarity.
Neither one of these women are Catholic but they live out, in clear definition, their Christian beliefs both in their writings and lives. Both have six children, homeschool, and both write about their lives, and homeschooling products.
I had to make time for this book.
Yes, the book is a best seller.
As a former bookstore owner, I often feel skeptical with best sellers. Since I know full well that only a few, the chosen few, get marketing dollars and publicity to raise it to the top. Someday I will research this one and how it rose to the top.
It definitely stands out from the usual big sellers, it’s overtly Christian. In addition, it is told in the first person, is very introspective, and full of Scripture passages. Not the usual making of a best seller!
Yet it is, and many passages found their way into my Catholic realm of spirituality. Into my meditative reflections for Easter!
I must admit that when I first picked up Ann’s book, I began reading with an expectation of being lifted, transformed, touched, and moved by her inspirations. However, the book begins strangely, with dreams and flashbacks that conjure up a tragic accident of a little girl, her sister.
I was taken aback and closed the book.
I let it sit for three weeks. Since I had borrowed it from the library, I renewed it to avoid forgetting to return it during the Easter Triduum.
Then I found myself celebrating a rather quiet Easter Sunday at home. We had gone to the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday; our grandson was just born so they did not travel to us, and my brother’s family canceled at the last minute. Therefore, I had plenty of time to make dinner, go for a walk, and relax with a book.
I picked up One Thousand Gifts.
This time, I opened the book in the middle, remembering the disturbing opening passages, and I began reading.
I read pages of deep reflection, full of emotion written in a free form style that encouraged me to read more. So, I ventured back to the beginning of the book, thinking maybe I had put it down too quickly. Maybe it wasn’t too hard to read.
Wrong! It was hard!
The memories Ann shares of her baby sister’s death are haunting and tragic.
Yes! And yet, this stark vulnerability she shares is actually a gift. We are invited to enter into her pain, and through it receive ultimate personal growth.
I had just experienced the gift of the Eucharist (thanksgiving) at Holy Thursday’s Mass of the Last Supper and cried my way through the Passion and Death of Jesus at the local Via Crucis on Good Friday. Then waited with eagerness for the Easter Vigil, to emerge from darkness into LIGHT!
Easter Joy! Alleluia!
Through tragedy springs hope, through pain and suffering we grow!
We are reborn with a thankful heart!
God was ever present for Ann in her daily life, but Ann failed to notice.
She failed to give any thankfulness for the awesomeness of the simplicity of it all.
Her life, one of a farmer’s wife, is simple, yet profound. It is dictated by the whims of nature and life in its purest form. It is a seed bed, ripe for planting and ripe for growing. She knows this firsthand and showed me through her writings that life can be taken away in an instant, just like her sister’s life.
For this reason, Ann started a list.
A list, of one thousand gifts, and in that process her transformation began.
The result became a book which reminds me that the Eucharist, thankfulness, is a precious gift Jesus gives to us for our pilgrim journey of life. Easter is the liturgical climax of this gift and a reminder of Resurrection’s promise.
Easter is a reality, a victory over the darkness of sin. It is HOPE and LIFE!
May I remember that, may I have a thankful heart.
We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song!
How are you moved by Easter JOY??
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