Several months back I was at an auto store getting some tires replaced when I saw something that has continued to stick with me. I had received my information and was told the waiting room was just across the way and I made my way there. After I took a seat in the corner of the waiting room, I started fiddling on my phone (doesn’t everybody nowadays?) and looking through Facebook, playing WordFeud (so much better than Words With Friends, in my opinion), and taking a quick look at my Twitter feed.
As I sat there in the corner, an older Hispanic man came rushing into the room. He took a seat across from me and didn’t even appear to notice me. His hair was unkempt, his skin was leathery from the Arizona sun, and his eyes were bloodshot. In his dry, cracked hands he clutched a McDonald’s bag tightly to his chest. He was a short man and his face was unshaven. Within the span of the first ten seconds of his being in the room, he sat down hard on the seat and whispered, in Spanish, “Gracias a Dios por mi comida, Gracias a Dios por my comida, Gracias a Dios por mi comida.” For my English-speaking friends that translates to “Thanks to God for my food” (I too am a gringo, but I know enough Spanish to get by if everyone talks suuuuupppeerrr slowly and about two inches from my face). He said this little prayer with so much energy and conviction that he was breathless by its completion. Up to this point, he had still not looked in my direction, and it’s most likely a good thing as I was enthralled by how thankful he REALLY was for that food. As he finished his trilogy of thankfulness, he kept his eyes closed and whispered one more “Gracias”. After opening his eyes, he then thrust his hand into the bag and retrieved an Egg McMuffin. With the skill and dexterity of a ninja, he had it unwrapped and one bite taken out before I could look away. It was now that he looked at me with a big smile and I could see that there were several teeth missing in his mouth. Not a word was said between us but as he smiled, he nodded at me. I nodded back and then looked away so as to not make him uncomfortable as he ate.
I bring this up because I got to thinking about something. Whether you pray or not, are you TRULY grateful for your life and what is surrounding you? We learn, as Christians, to be thankful and to praise God as we pray. Prayers should be more “praises and gratitude” than “give me this and make this happen”. Do those prayers end up being just a repetition of words or are we meaning what we say? My wife and I have been trying to get our 8 year old to think of these things and to not just repeat the same prayer he said before. As we’ve told him, a prayer is more a “conversation” with God than an order at a drive-thru window. The analogy we’ve used has been one of how annoying it would be if we carried on the EXACT SAME conversation with him day to day, something akin to a script. Do we do that? No, of course not. Each conversation we have with him is markedly different, depending on the events of that day. What makes a conversation with God any different?
What are YOU grateful for today? Seriously, you woke up today right? You had a nice, comfy bed to sleep in last night? You were able to kiss your significant other before heading out into the world? You got a chance to talk to your kids and see them off to school didn’t you? Did you get to enjoy a morning coffee in the peaceful solitude of your back porch? If you really were to stop and think of how blessed you are, you’d be amazed. Just the simple act of waking up today was a miracle, right? I challenge you to think of things to be thankful for and, regardless of how you do it, make that gratitude known. If you’re not a praying person and don’t make your appreciation known to God, let someone down here know how much they mean to you, even if it’s just the man or woman behind the counter at the grocery store slicing up our deli meat. You may not have another chance.
On a sidenote I have a couple silly blogs bouncing around in my head. If this is your first visit here, I’m not always such a somber, downer of a person. The community recently lost a great man who was a friend to a lot of people and there are tons of folks working through their shock, disbelief, and grief about this loss. Considering how close-to-home this tragedy has hit, it’s only inevitable that people are questioning and discussing deeper things.