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Fostering a Grateful Heart with Memorials


 

I remember one Christmas when my daughter was just a toddler.  She opened the gifts one at a time.  She wanted to play with each one before opening the next.  She was living in the moment and I loved it.  I noticed that her jaw would drop a little and her eyes would get big when she would open a gift she really loved.  She was focused on the gifts, but she was grateful. 

Later, when she was in the preteen years I remember one of her birthdays.  She received just one gift from me that year.  She opened the gift and smiled briefly.  She said "thank you Papa" in that sweet voice of hers.  After that she came over and gave me a hug.  Then she laid there with her head on my shoulder.  She was focused on the giver, and she was grateful.  

Recently as an adult I visited with her.  I noticed that she wore a necklace I had given her.  She wore it every day, she slept with it on.  It had become a part of her, a treasure.  She was no longer focused on the gift, or the giver, but one had become a symbol for the other.  A single object had become a talisman that could bring to mind a lifetime of being grateful.  Gratefulness seems to mature into this does it not?

After my mother passed, my sister and I went through her house and we picked items to keep.  We choose talismans.  Things that reminded us of the good moments with our mother.  This morning I looked beside my desk and I saw my grandfather's walking stick.  It was the talisman my mother had chosen when he had passed.  Now it sits in my house as a reminder of both.  It calls to mind generations of gratefulness.  

I think we need more talismans in our lives.  More reminders of the people who have passed, and the people who are still with us.  These little items can bring us great joy in moments of sorrow.  They can foster grateful hearts. 

In the Old Testament we see story after story of the people setting up memorials as a reminder to the people.  These were talismans for the whole community.  

"He told them, 'Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the Lord your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.'” - Joshua 4:5-7 (NLT)

With that in mind, what talismans remind you of your walk with God?  What memorials are set up as a reminder to focus on the joys?  If you don't have one, can you make one?

God, help us to get beyond thankfulness for the gift, and instead to focus on the giver.  Then help us to set up reminders, talismans, or memorials that remind us of you, the giver.  Help us to recall those things that will help us to get through the dark valleys with smiles on our faces.  Amen. 

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