Give thanks for the small things
It is now over a year since COVID 19 was first detected in China, at the end of 2019. It is over a year since we started to realise that it might be serious. It will not be long before it is the first anniversary of the beginning of the first lockdown. And yet here we are, in the middle of another lockdown, with no pubs or foreign holidays, many off work, most children at home, the NHS at the limit, quite possibly a serious bereavement and, to add to the misery, it is winter as well. What is there to cheer us?
I have found that it has become a time of small things. The Santa Claus competition in Dane End brought people together in a new way. People always seem ready for a chat outside the shop, whereas before we might have been too busy. Just before this present lockdown, when restaurants were closed, we went to the service station just off the M11 at Bishop’s Stortford and found that not only were the takeaways operating, but you could sit and eat your food. It may have been illegal (I honestly do not know) but that lunchtime KFC and Burger King felt like a gourmet meal out!
There are other small things that make a difference to me. It might be my imagination, but the snowdrops seem brighter and bolder this year. The Red Kites seem to shine in the air with black, white and orange. The snow was joyous when it came and the days are noticeably longer. There is light at 5 o’clock! In the midst of the gloomy weather and newscasts there are these shafts of light.
However, there is something more that these small things do for me, and that is to make me want to give thanks. Right now we are often critical of authority (perhaps with reason), getting tired and tetchy and also depressed. Yet when I start noticing these small things that brighten everything, I want to give thanks. It seems a strange thing. Why would I want to give thanks? I guess that this is a common emotion, the sense that there is a need to be grateful. But at root I think it is something God put in us as human beings; as far as we can see it is not in other animals.
Giving thanks to God for these small mercies is very liberating. We have been so used to getting what we want much of the time that we often used to miss these blessings. And blessings are what they are, an indefinable sense of something wonderful creeping up on us unawares. So, as you see a beautiful sunset, a child laughing, a robin on the bird table, a friendly greeting, a snowflake floating down, take a moment, look more closely and thank God. There are enough bad things around us right now without us missing the blessings God gives.