Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. Psalm 111:1 (ESV)
I am a creature of habit. For example, I have a particular routine before I can go to sleep. I have to wear socks, a thin nylon robe and my mouth guard to protect my teeth from clenching my jaw while sleep. I need a sheet, a lightweight thermal blanket and a quilt. No more, no less. I lie on my right side first until I start to get sleepy, then roll over on my left side. If I go straight to my left side first, I cannot sleep. That’s just the way it is. Oh, and the overhead fan has to be on. Like I said, I am a creature of habit. I thought about these habits when I was reading a book by Anne Lamott this week. Lamott is one of my favorite authors. We have grown old together. I read her book, Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year, when my sons were little. Her humor and advice helped me get through those days of infancy when I thought I would lose my mind. When I wrote my book, Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, guided me to take it one page at a time. Traveling Mercies : Some Thoughts on Faith, Plan B : Further Thoughts on Faith, and Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith helped me through some tough times and find grace again. When I read, Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son, I nodded in agreement at the dilemma of being caught between wanting your children to grow up and wanting them to need you. I like Lamott’s writing style, pithy, honest, compassionate and eloquent all at the same time. Really, I want to be Anne Lamott when I grow up as an author without having to go through the same difficulties she did! Just like all her other books, Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers, arrived at just the right time in my life as I continue to explore the meaning and expectations of Christianity during this time of sabbatical. Lamott says that there are really only three prayers we need, “Help” for times of need, “Thanks” for times of gratitude, and “Wow” for times we are overwhelmed with our rescue, our blessings and the beauty of this world. In the section on thanks, she said something that struck me in light of understanding my habits. She says we must chose to make gratitude a habit. She outlines the benefits of living a thankful life and adds, “Gratitude begins in our hearts and then, dovetails into behavior. It almost always makes you willing to be of service which is where joy resides.” I agree. Buy the book. Buy an extra copy for a friend. There is more good stuff in there than I can quote here. I know I am going to work on a new habit: gratitude. Because it will impact how I act in ways far more important than how I sleep!