beauty thanksliving

“Mom! It’s the one with the crossed bill!”

I ducked my head at his urgent whisper, peering out the glass. Sure enough—an Openbill Stork. Three feet in height and layered in glossy black, this one seemed shiny enough that it might have just glided in from Murchison Bay, a handful of kilometers from our home. Weeks before, my son and I had sat quietly together, watching the same variety of stork leverage that gapped bill upon of the fist-sized snails that creep somberly across our yard.

Somehow, it’s another way that God tips my chin upwards in the midst of all that’s sprinting past me at the speed of life. It helps me catch my breath; twists the zoom lens of my soul to Someone so much greater than I. Reminds me that so much of gratitude, of worship, is learning to see all the God that surrounds us.

Reminds me that possibly, in all that’s irritating and flattening me, all that’s wringing my hands, that perhaps a prayer is due: Lord. Show me Your glory.

And as Thanksgiving steadily approaches, I find myself startled by this discipline that has gently urged me to find more thanks-worthy nuggets in my day: identifying the names, sounds, and presentations of the lush nature here. Largely, it’s been spurred on by this ceaselessly inquisitive son who for years has determined to be a zoologist or biologist (same one who belts out in the midst of utter family chaos, “Mom! Did you know spider monkeys have opposable thumbs?!”).

Our bookshelf now houses guides for kids on a variety of startling African mammals and hair-raising reptiles, and of course, a field guide to East African birds. Now, when I’m sipping my ginger tea, Bible on my lap in petals of soft morning light, I hear a call and know without looking that it’s the brown Hamerkop, or the relentlessly noisy Hadeda Ibis, or one of the gregarious, sapphire-tinted starlings.

This conjures up mental images of the beasts that must have crowded around Adam, awaiting his observation, his touch, his appreciation of their uniqueness—and their own name.

Somehow, as this new habit makes me more observant, it also makes me more appreciative of the wonder wrapped up in minutely-engineered packages all around us. With exquisitely architected leaves and head-turning bursts of color flung on dipping, heavy blooms, I find my marvel doubles. Triples.

I suppose that my increased awareness of creation just sensibly leads to more natural praise of their Creator, not unlike returning from an art exhibit with sizably increased respect for the artist.

So I find myself appreciative of God taking me by the hand, further (and painlessly) into gratitude this year—not a bad quality, I suspect, for Him to annually expand in me as He recalibrates my soul.

I love how my kids lead me into gratitude, into thanks-living.

How has God made you even more grateful this year?

Liked this? You might also enjoy Prayer Walk and God in the Middle of a Chain-link Fence.

If you like it, please share it! (And consider subscribing up there in the right hand corner.)