The Defiant Pen

Three gifts for today. . .

    274. geese on open water in late November

        275. a son’s safe journey home

            276. the soft weight of a thousand prayers pressing in through the stitches of a                                knitted shawl

Lying in bed on the edge of slumber, ten minutes pre-alarm, I fantasize crawling back in after the family has gone and defying the day behind closed eyes, keeping the light out and the darkness in, or perhaps getting lost once again in a book. Meandering with Queenie Hennessy in her garden by the sea seems like a pleasant escape from today’s reality, the reality of the past few weeks. I wonder how I managed during school vacation to pull myself out of bed and walk/run two miles every day when today the former is daunting enough, the second–unfathomable.

But I do it. Fighting the urge to completely shut myself away, I accomplish the arduous task of hauling my weary body and battered spirit out of bed. Why was it so difficult today? Because the weight of the world is pressing in like the down comforter, pressing me down. But not keeping me down. Love propels me forward to help my husband and the kids and get them off on their way.

Once up, there is coffee to brew, sandwiches to make, buses to catch. When they are gone, and I have pause, I sit down and cry. I wasn’t expecting to, but the weight of everything comes crashing down and manifests itself in a sudden gush. Like a huge storm cloud that just can’t hold any more drops and lets go in a sudden downpour. Today the forecast was not for a chance of showers. A tearstorm was brewing, I just didn’t know when it would make landfall.

After the tears, I rest my head on the table and sit at the feet of Jesus. Not moving, just sitting. I guess I am not doing nothing. We are kind of having a quiet conversation. I tell Him more of the same. He tells me to breathe and rest in Him. He’s going to take care of things. It’s a good chat, but I still need to get motivated, get unstuck, get on with my day. Exercising a second act of courage, I pick up a pen and make myself list at least three things I am thankful for.

Wait a minute. . .

Give thanks now?

In this mess?

Yeah, Self, now.

Even as you stand knee deep in all the rubble of this broken castle of dreams wondering why God let it happen and what He’s going to do to fix it. Paul said to give thanks in all circumstances, so do as you are told and start writing.

I pick up the pen and blow the dust off the list I started last year when things were hard but not this hard, when expectations were fractured but hadn’t completely shattered and come crashing to the ground like they did just the other day. How was I going to be grateful for this? I lift my eyes from the dusty dreams and start intentionally searching for blessings. Surely there must be some tiny thing right in front of me I could be thankful for and name it. I am determined to find something, anything, and write its name on paper before despair can totally constrict me.

The wooden bowl on the table holds a couple handfuls of hazelnuts. I love hazelnuts.

Could I list that?

Could I name hazelnuts as one of my blessings?

I have to start somewhere. I scratch it on the paper.

    Hazelnuts. . .

I look for something else.

       Smiling faces of snowmen on the place mat. . .

Gratitude awakens and swells a little in my heart. These are simple things I see every day, but I never think to thank God for them. I continue to list even the most mundane things within my sight, those that bring me some kind of satisfaction, some slight upturn of the lips, when I really focus on them. That’s when things start looking different.

Picking up the pen and naming the blessings, counting the gifts, marking in ink all the ways I am blessed, pulls me back into the present. Like the whooshing special effects in a movie when the main character gets transported through time, I move from visions of the dashed expectations of the past and crippling fears of the future, back to the now.

I feel the sturdy wooden chair beneath me and my feet in woolly socks planted firmly on the floor as my favorite pen moves smoothly over white paper with blue lines in a seventy cent notebook, the ink flowing, reminding me there are beautiful things here. There is life here. Even when I choose to focus on darkness, that choice doesn’t negate the truth that life abounds. There is always something to be grateful for. It’s cliche, but this moment is a gift, life here and now is the present, the gift list becomes the “Is” list.

“This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

~Psalm 118:24


About Amy Nicholson

A busy wife and mother pausing to ponder the beauty and complexity of life and share it with words.
This entry was posted in 1000 Gifts, Ann Voskamp, Gifts, Gratitude, Grief, Love, Patience, Priorities, self-discovery, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Defiant Pen

  1. Dick Benton says:

    You wrote beautifully and I felt your angst. You have handled your internal need…can we otherwise help?


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