Being Thankful for Ordinary Days
By Darla Isackson
Psalm 92:1 “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High.”
When I was Managing Editor of Latter-day Woman magazine years ago, an article came across my desk with the title “Just a Normal Day–A Jewel!” I was intrigued with Jean Irion’s ideas, and we printed the article. I’m going to share a quote from it, then give my own “take” in the context of the time we live in.
An Ordinary Day–a Treasure
Jean described the ordinary day she had just lived with sensitivity and vivid word pictures. Then she said, “Just a normal day. A normal day! It is a jewel! In time of war, in peril of death, people have dug their hands into the earth and remembered this. In time of sickness and pain, people have buried their faces in pillows and wept for this. In time of loneliness and separation, people have stretched themselves taut and waited for this. In time of hunger, homelessness, want, people have raised bony hands to the skies and stayed alive for this. Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it will not always be so. One day, I may dig my nails in the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want more than all the world–your return.
A Wake-up Call
One ordinary day last week I stopped at a service station for gas, and was startled to learn they had none. Their new supply would not arrive for hours. It stopped me in my tracks to realize how quickly my whole life could change if gas were suddenly unavailable. All normal activities would stop. Those who could walk to stores would soon find shelves bare because the trucks couldn’t replenish the stock.
A Tiny Inventory of Blessings
In addition to motivating me to take an inventory of my home storage supplies, this little experience renewed my sense of gratitude for all the things that seem ordinary–but could be quickly taken away. Here are some of the things I’ve been thinking about:
? When I turn on the tap, I have a ready supply of water–even hot water whenever I need it. Today when I shower, wash clothes, wash dishes, drink all the good fresh water I want, I will thank the Lord for water.
? When I flip the switch and the light goes on, or my computer comes to life, I will thank the Lord for harnessed electricity and all the things I can do today because of it.
? When I open my fridge I will think of the amazing network of farmers, dairymen, truckers and grocers that make possible the huge variety of food available at the grocery store. I will say a prayer of Thanksgiving for all of these people–and for my husband who labors patiently day after day to provide the means to pay for most of the bounty we enjoy.
? When I go to my closet I will marvel at the many choices I have–and thank the Lord for warm clothes and comfortable shoes. I’ll thank Him for the physical strength to walk to the closet, for the luxury of choosing what to wear each day, for the physical ability to dress myself and perform my necessary tasks.
? I will thank the Lord for the amazing freedom I experience to choose what to do with my time–that I live in a country where I am not assigned to or forced into a certain line of work. I’m thankful to live in a day and time when the blessings of education are readily available. I’m thankful I could make the choices to gain skills that make it possible for me to work at home–to be where I really want to be and to be doing what I really want to do. I’m grateful for each of my myriad moments in which I can seek the Lord’s counsel to choose wisely between all available options and opportunities (which are greater than in any other previous time on the earth). I’m grateful I have the freedom to choose to follow the voice of the Spirit when I’m wise enough to listen for it. No one keeps me from doing what I think is right. I’m grateful I can explore every day better ways to follow the spiritual counsel in: Colossians 3:15 “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts. . . And be ye thankful.”
Savoring Each Ordinary Day
The first snow of winter is falling outside my window as I write. Here in the valley of the Great Salt Lake we have had the most beautiful Indian summer on record. 40 sunny days in a row of clear, warm weather. The flowers have loved it–and so have I! I’ve never seen such exuberant blooms, such vivid colors–almost neon. The brilliant flowers contrast with rich mellow autumn leaves to present a season “in living color.” I’ve savored each day–but tonight the temperature will drop into the 20s. Tomorrow the flowers will be frozen and wilted. Have I enjoyed each of these “ordinary” days enough?
There is something poignantly symbolic about this last day of brilliant flowers; I cherish it. I sense that the Last Days tribulations are increasing, are bound to escalate. All the “ordinary days” I’ve known may soon become as jewels in my memory. I just went out in a world made magic with gentle snow falling on still-green grass, and performed my yearly ritual. When I know the frost is coming I cut all my roses that are still not fully open and bring them into the house. Some will still open. Some buds, too tightly closed, will not. Never mind; they are still beautiful. Just now I gathered small bucketfuls of roses–mostly from my rose hedge; my fingers are numb with the cold; my hair is wet with snowflakes. Now my house is ablaze with pink and red and yellow roses. The roses will fill all my vases and overflow into my glasses. For awhile, my ordinary days will be extraordinary because of the last flame of these precious flowers. It was within my power to prolong their life–but only temporarily.
How would I feel if it were my loved ones who were in danger of a “killing frost?” How would I feel if I knew it might be my own last day? How well have I lived? How well have I loved? How well have I expressed my gratitude and thanksgiving to God and all those I love?
In the last scene of The Book of Mormon Movie, tears well up in Nephi’s eyes as he watches the children play. He savors the peacefulness of his people, but weeps, knowing the Lamanites are soon to attack. I have a tiny sense of that foreboding. My life is so comfortable right now. My children are well. My grandchildren are safe and warm. While I savor all that is good and beautiful about my present life, I know I must prepare physically and spiritually for all that is prophesied in the Last Days. I try to keep it all in context, remind myself that “all these things shall give thee experience and shall be for thy good.” (D&C 122:7)
I’m now finishing this article a week after the snow started. When the sun came out days later, I went outside and marveled at the crystal sparkle of the snow and the brilliance of the trees bathed in splendor as the sun lit up each water droplet and snowflake on them. Yes, the flowers are gone, but the Lord always makes up for our losses and gives us many reasons to rejoice.
Season of Thanksgiving
During this season when we focus on all our reasons to express gratitude, I’m determined to thank the Lord for plentiful water, for delicious food to spread on our Thanksgiving table. I’ll remember what a great blessing it is to have a warm house to shelter us from the cold, warm cars to drive us where we need to go, and for being able to pull into a service station and take for granted that gas will be available.
But most of all I will thank the Lord for His love and His plan; for the faith that would keep me going if all these outward comforts and conveniences were quickly swept away. I thank Him for the knowledge that He is over all, and no matter what adversities we must face in the future, He will sustain us through them. In the meantime I intend to savor each ordinary day, each jewel, and make each day a day of great thanksgiving. I want to live Psalm 100:1-5
“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
“Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
“Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that has made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise; be thankful unto him and bless his name.
“For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”