Vicar's Letter August
I wonder whether you have a favourite shop. One of mine is the stationery chain Paperchase. It’s probably a good thing there isn’t a branch in Dorchester, as it’s one of those shops I cannot pass by without going in, and I never come out without having bought something. It could all get a bit expensive.
Back in February I was in Salisbury killing time when I found myself outside the said shop. I went in and browsed, and was surprised to discover on the shelves a new kind of notebook – a thankful journal. Each page has the heading: “Today I am thankful for . . .”; underneath are four lined spaces for users to fil in the rest of the sentence.
A review of the day at bedtime has long been part of Christian tradition, and in times past I have kept my own notebooks with a similar aim to this one. So I was interested to find the same kind of thing in a secular shop.
It is something I think is much needed in our busy world today. Those of us with faith will obviously want to aim our gratitude at God, but being thankful is something that can enhance the lives of all people, believers or not.
In our over-busy world, it is so easy to pass each day without any time or space for reflection and taking stock of our lives. There is so much we take for granted.
I have been reminded of this since I began to use my thankful journal. There are some days when I can think of lots of things to be thankful for: time with friends, phone conversations with family, a day off, walks with Toby my spaniel, meetings that have been productive, a wedding or funeral that has gone well, a pastoral conversation, an unexpected gift, and so on.
There are other days, though, when I really struggle to find anything much to be grateful for. In some ways, these are almost more important, because they are the days when I start thinking about the things we take for granted the rest of the time: water that comes out of a tap, shelter, food in the cupboards, the diversity of nature, living in a peaceful nation.
The more grateful we are for what we have the more content we become. Even in the darkest days, there are things to be thankful for. Sometimes we need reminding of that, which is why having the daily discipline of a thankful journal can be so helpful. It doesn’t take long each evening to fill it in, and it means the day ends well on a positive note, as I reminded of the many and varied blessings that God has given to each one of us.
With best wishes, Sarah