I realise that I didn’t really complete the first generous act according to the instructions … it wasn’t simply about starting a journal, but starting a journal by writing a list of things for which to give thanks, and a second list of people you intend to bless during the 40 days of Lent.

So this post is supposed to make that right …

I am thankful for … well, all the usual things, family, home, friends, having enough to live on, our garden and pets. And as a Christian I am of course grateful for Jesus, salvation, the gift and privilege of prayer, our church family, the Bible, the hope of heaven. The thing is … I am so often forgetful of these things. It’s not that I am ungrateful, just that my focus is elsewhere. And that diminishes the value of gratitude, and weakens the impact of remembrance. Looking back (or around) at our blessings should be such an encouragement, there are so many, so much to be thankful for. Instead we tend to focus on what is lacking, or who is missing, or what others have.

The old chorus was right … count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done!  But we shouldn’t be surprised! If we are surprised, it’s because we’re not paying attention.

As for those I hope to bless this season of Lent, well those I usually seek to encourage and care for, and those I meet in chance encounters … I’m not always very patient with my family (everyone needs somewhere to let off steam and someone to shout at), but I do try always to be honest and truthful and positive in every relationship and with total strangers. I always say thank you to the bus driver or the person on the checkout, and I try to make eye contact so they know I am sincere. I do seem to have the gift of getting people to talk, by asking the right question and then listening carefully to the answer. But perhaps I need to be more intentional about it, more conscious of the presence of God, more deliberate in prayer as I listen, less rushed.

So, a useful exercise … and one to consider carefully as a spiritual discipline. But not simply as another thing to add to my To Do list …