"Gratitude changes the pangs of memory into tranquil joy." -Dietrich Bonhoeffer
We are cleaning out the basement, closets, and corners of a house well lived in. And the best find so far has been the old bent box of dusty photo albums. Jeff hauled it up from a corner of the basement, placed there for just a moment and then forgotten. I wiped down the covers, the dust thick. And as I flipped through them time stopped. Faces, eyes squinting at the sun. My sister, brother, and I with the California hills behind us. The years skip forward and high school is relived in moments, fingers pausing at the friends I have lost touch with. I flip another. My first dorm room. Tapestry hung above the bed and a look of anticipation and fear. And then the countless ones of friendships made, trips taken, experiences that welded hearts together. The first ones of Jeff and I dating, the ones of us broken, and then the wedding day. They flood through my heart and mind as I remember what I don't ever think about much anymore. That I didn't just end up in Culpeper, VA married with three boys. And Jeff didn't just come up with a crazy idea to move us all to Basque, Spain. Each picture held a clue to how we got here to this place. And to see it unravel dusty page after dusty page steadily filled me with gratitude.
Gratitude for parents that loved and spoke into my heart. For an older sister and brother who shaped me. Friends who helped me understand what it is to give and receive. For a man that loves me, the good, the bad, the tiring. And the three boys smiling at me in each photo. Teaching me what life is about. And I am so glad it is not all about me. I wouldn't trade a single snapshot for a better composition. For better lighting or faces. They tell a story I am so grateful I get to be a part of. That feels a lot better than being afraid of what is left to written. Gratitude rests in the remembering. And to remember with a heart and mind that sees clearly. That each moment, day, and year had a purpose. Some refining and stretching, most just living through the small joys given. And none wasted. The perspective of seeing snippets of life lived so far, how much has been given. How much has been GIVEN. It is hard not to thank the Giver.
I hope you get to pull out an old picture album this week. To go through the slick pages of memories, years lived. And to see how God was weaving His love story throughout. That each face in each picture was a part of something so much bigger than you. That your heart will grow heavy with thanks by the time you flip the last page and reach the pages to be filled.