Each morning I take a very long walk and I begin it by mentally rehearsing my gratitude list. This is important because it reminds me of my identity and the narrative I inhabit. I live in a world of plenty, filled with rich gifts. And I am someone dearly loved by God and I am the recipient of so many good things.
Cultivating this perspective situates me daily to encounter others with generosity, joy and delight and it orients me to receive other people as the gifts they are to me. And it makes me supremely happy.
So, my gratitude list.
My parents. My mother and father are loving, kind, supportive, encouraging and very generous. I have countless privileges and good things in my life because of them. They are attentive, loving and encouraging grandparents, too.
Sarah. My life partner is intelligent, capable, a criminally-good Scrabble player, kind, witty, wise and a thousand other things. She’s a great conversation partner, the most interesting person I know and I value her assessment of things more than that of anyone else. I am the luckiest person in the world to have been related to her by marriage for nearly 27 years.
My kids. Maddie, Jake and Riley are three of the absolute best humans. They are funny, intelligent, interesting, creative, caring, compassionate and kind. They care about people and are generous to others. I am so proud of them and so profoundly grateful that I get to be in their lives.
My job. When I was in college I had the sense that I wanted to get a Ph.D. in either philosophy or theology and research, write and teach in one of these areas. I ended up getting a Ph.D. in New Testament. This was my dream and because of my inherited privileges, it happened. I am daily astonished by this reality and can hardly believe how good my life is. I love what I do. I get to study the Bible and teach and write about it, which amazes me. And I love where I teach. I have the most interesting students to learn alongside, the most wonderful colleagues as partners in this task, and the seminary in which I do this is run by competent administrators who are great people.
This beautiful world. The particular beauties that I noticed today: The craggy folds of the gnarled bark of the old oak tree; the bare branches against the blue sky; the skittering squirrels in the old leaves; the vines growing up through the fence around an abandoned tennis court in the woods; the curious kindness in the wizened face of the woman who never speaks or smiles but waves each day that we pass; the brilliantly lit cardinals darting through the trees; the deer nervously tracking me through the pines; the swift river beneath the covered bridge; the small Congregational church built in 1870; the too-small squirrel gnawing on a too-large acorn, and how he paused when I stopped to look at him; the dusting of snow on greening early spring grass; the happy cluelessness of each dog I passed; the two swans soaring gracefully overhead.