Thank you, Lord, that we have plenty of food to eat.
It’s a simple thing he says holding my hand, breathing deeply before God, just as I sit down with a sigh, just as I’ve gotten it all wrong and lost my grateful perspective.
Five minutes and it’s time to take Zoe to school. It took exactly 47 for my attitude to sour, for me to let complaint trickle in—a slow, ruinous drip. It’s nothing I’ve said out loud; it takes a while, after all, before decaying thoughts begin to stink.
47 minutes ago I walk in fresh from prayer, fresh from running, fresh from a crisp breeze that smells of cinnamon and feels like Fall. I had spent 3 miles gathering gifts—that sky, always that wild, free sky; the silken sculpt of rose petals jeweled with dew; birds twittering, plump, bobbing in bushes; the curl of steam over an anticipated mug of coffee; a kind neighbor, all wrapped in stillness, lifting a hand at me from her porch; even the sweat dripping from my fingertips, runneling down the length of my back, reminding me that I can run, I can breathe. 3 miles of gifts—more, more than these, so many I lose track.
But I walk in and time presses. I go out to the overflow fridge (yes, missing the gift that we even have one of those) to grab a carton of eggs, and the timer goes off on the toasting bagels. Adam has a compulsion about timers and since he routinely sets them for fun—random times that usually have something to do with a math equation or a set of numbers he collects from a page: a phone number, an account number, a chapter and verse—he hasn’t yet fully embraced the fact that the rest of us set them for a purpose. In my absence, he cancels the timer and goes on, leaving me to discover—minutes, minutes, minutes ticking away later—that the bagels have burned. I fling the metal pan on a hot mat, and suddenly the room smells of char, bitter-black. A pop of grease from the bacon stings as it lands on my wrist, and I put down the fork to turn the eggs sizzling in a neighboring skillet. One sigh, and then another, multiplying. A watermelon sits on a cutting board behind me, and from time to time, I cross the room to set out something else I need to do the slicing–a knife, a trash bag for the rinds. By the time the fat blade splits that skin—grass green with ground-touched yellow that reminds me of morning sun—by the time the slicing makes that thick, sweet sound and juice dribbles pink on wood, I’m thinking I wish I didn’t have to juggle breakfast alone. Kevin hasn’t finished his workout, and if he had, he’d need to get ready to leave for work (and yes, I’ve missed the gift that he has work and can, that I get to work from home).
Zoe wanders into the kitchen still groggy with sleep, hair rumpled, pillow-lines marking her cheeks, and I think, she should be getting up earlier. I flick a gaze at the clock, calculating the time until the new batch of bagels is done, the time from then until we’ll have to leave. I hope I can eat breakfast. I hope she doesn’t ask me to fix her hair. I wish we could take our time. And in 47 minutes the gift I choose to give my family—a hot breakfast, the chance to gather up a bit more rest or exercise or readiness before the start of the day, my own fingers braiding smooth love over my daughter’s heads—takes on the black-bitter taste of selfishness and resentment, the missing lightness of gifts gathered; blessings fully touched; grace abundantly, indulgently slathered. My brother said something long ago that stays with me, that I don’t have enough has always been the enemy’s great, slithering lie; the untruth that roots bitterness.
And then, thank you, Lord, that we have plenty of food to eat.
I feel Kevin’s hand, strong and whole and mine, drawing me still. Breathe. Taste, and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. And suddenly I remember something a sister of mine recently shared about the poverty she tasted, knew, growing up in Africa. Does anybody know this stress? She asks it bold, honest.
Coming from school, and there is no food in the house, no hope that you are going to eat food that day. Mother is sick, and there is no money to take her to the hospital. Dad is jobless; therefore he cannot provide for his family.
No, no I don’t. My sister, she makes me repent of my selfish shadows. In earnest, I echo Kevin’s prayer, as he goes on to ask for eyes to see and ears to hear, for our attitudes appropriately God-shaped, God-centered. And I’m reminded that looking beyond clears up the view close at hand. Suddenly I’m left asking to spread grace-gifts beyond our walls, to share the so much, to give. Shattered yet again by extravagant, merciful grace, I am left only with thanksgiving and an emptied hand, shaking to be generous with love.
And so, a simple, honest prayer of gratitude offered over us washes through me like a tide, taking with it all the whispered sludge for which I had so quickly cast aside so many gifts. But God isn’t only in the earthquake or storm; He’s also in the gentle, heartfelt whisper.
Thank you, Lord, that we have plenty to eat.
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness (2 Peter 1:3).