Saturday, February 06, 2010

Counting Blessings



desk where I do my bookwork


Checking my bank balance after writing the monthly bills, I've ruefully decided I will never be rich. As I was mentally reviewing my financial woes before going to sleep last night, it occurred to me that though I may not have millions or even hundreds in the bank, I am rich beyond measure in the things that really count.

I have my health. All my faculties work. Some better than others, it’s true. I can see a sunrise bathe the morning in gold or watch dusk cloak the landscape in royal purple. And with my glasses on I can see clear across the room. I can hear birdsong and laughter and music, and if they don’t mumble, I can hear other people when they talk to me. I can smell freshly baked loaves of bread and the soup bubbling on the back of the stove. I can also smell snow in the air (and danger there, too when I wax poetic about snow to the wrong people). I revel in the cuddly touch of polar fleece and the puffy softness of my down quilt. I like the satin smoothness of bread dough under my kneading fingers and the stickiness of cookie dough that must be licked from the spoon.

I have a place to come home to, a beautiful little cottage with lots of windows to let in the light. There’s room (if I rearrange all the furniture) to toss a mattress on the floor for whatever wandering guest, child, or welcomed grandchild is here for a sleepover. Not everyone is as lucky as I.

My happiness knows no bounds. If I started to count the things that made me happy I’d be up all night. I have four children that have grown into marvelous adults and they still love me. I have two grandchildren and a daughter-in-law that have caused my heart to grow at least three sizes. I have friends with whom to share my greatest joys and my deepest sorrows (and all the paltry stuff in between). I have food in the pantry and clothes in the closet and a cat that prefers my lap to all others.

My bankbook may be a lot thinner than my waistline but it is by no means the measure of my wealth. That's a good thing to know.

18 comments:

mido said...

I like your way of being rich. It is of great comfort...

Molly said...

Yes! I agree with your definition of riches!

Pearl said...

Rich is not always measured in numbers, is it?!

Pearl

Paul said...

All of that is truly wonderful. But "blessings" is a word I always have trouble with...

If those with good fortune are in some sense blessed, doesn't it logically mean that the unfortunate are in some sense cursed?

And what sense do we make of those who are blessed for say half a lifetime and cursed the second half? If you're blessed, it sounds like it's supposed to be permanent, but in fact nobody knows that things won't change for them in a heartbeat.

To me the terms "blessed" and "cursed" equally sound like the universe or God deliberately targets individuals for happiness or pain.

I know of course that people use the word blessings casually, but these are the implications to me when I follow them through...

riseoutofme said...

You are a blessed woman Pauline!

I can still remember times when I spent most of my time worrying about bills etc ... and it did colour how I saw everything else. Thankfully those days are past ... and I now have the luxury of enjoying the simpler things!

Nice post.

Pauline said...

Thanks Mido, it's a comfort to me, too..

Thanks, Molly.

No Pearl, it isn't, thank goodness or I'd be feeling mighty poor at the moment.

Thanks Rise - worry always colors outside the lines, doesn't it?

Pauline said...

Paul: I am assuming your are looking at the word through a Christian lens but according to the Old English Dictionary (OED), the word derives etymologically from the Old Teutonic “bestsian,” which referred to blood sacrifices, a heathen practice meant to appease some god but not THE GOD as Christianity hadn’t been invented yet. The word meant “to mark or affect in some way” and the way at that time was with blood. Following the word’s travels through language usage, its Hebrew equivalent was “baw-rahk,” meaning “to kneel,” a commonly used word conveying respect, adoration, or thanks. Of course, one did those things in Yahweh’s direction so the word took on a religious significance. However, one of the definitions in the American Heritage dictionary is: transitive verb - to confer well-being or prosperity on. As a non-Christian, that’s the definition I choose.

As for the opposite of feeling blessed, this is a world of opposites. You seem to be assigning such concepts (blessing, curse) to a deity that I don't believe in. Furthermore, feelings are subjective. If you and I found ourselves in the same exact circumstances, one of us still might feel blessed, the other cursed. Logic doesn't always enter into feelings. At the time of this writing I am facing several might-be-called curses. I simply chose and continue to choose to count my "blessings" rather than focus on the adversities. Don't you do that as well?

As always, you make me dig deeper.

Marion said...

Loved this post and also the photo of your office, which looks similar to mine. I love offices which have books everywhere...there is something which projects homeyness and richness about a back drop of well-loved books.

Many of your blessings remind me of mine...thank you for the reminder to me to count mine today!

Paul said...

"Confer" suggests some sort of force that does the conferring.

But the main thing is that you so often hear that word used in sound bites by very conservative Christians who really don't sound like they've thought through the implications ("miracle" is often used the same way). Or if they have, they kind of like them!

As in "I survived the plane crash. It was a miracle. I'm blessed." Or even, "So God must have a special purpose for me."

Logically, that says God did not have a special purpose for the other 200 people who were killed...

Obviously you weren't thinking/feeling along these lines, more in terms of a sense of gratitude - even here though, I get the same glitch, although the edges have been linguistically rounded off.

Deep appreciation. That's how I'd want to phrase it. But I don't rule the world yet or even write the dictionaries. But I think that’s what you meant.

Pauline said...

Paul, re the definition from the AH dictionary, that would be ME doing the conferring...

Words are often misused and the misuse becomes the working word with its accompanying watered down or misinterpreted definition (I agree: miracle, blessing, love, even GOD are a few), but that doesn't mean that the word does not retain its original definition. You just have to be a word snob.

Deep appreciation... Counting My Deep Appreciation just doesn't have the same ring as Counting My Blessings - you'll just have to suck it up ;)

TomCat said...

Once I had an income in six figures. I have never been more poor than I was then. Today I live in what people call poverty. I am rich.

Barbara said...

I'd say your blessings are worth their weight in gold. Money never really made anyone happy.

lakeviewer said...

I've come in from Reya's. I do understand about taking stock and counting our assets.

Cricket said...

Hi Pauline -

Thank you for your visits. True wealth is certainly not measured in dollars. I sincerely doubt my own last words will be: "I wish I spent more time at the office."

On the other hand:

A rich man wanted to be buried with all his money. He made his wife promise him this. After his funeral, one of her friends asked if she had followed his last wish. She said: Of course. I deposited all the money in my account and wrote him a check.

Ruth said...

I really enjoyed that, and related to it too. I look forward to grandchildren like nobody's business. I also liked reading Paul's comment and your response. I get the same willies from the word "blessing" in some contexts - but I didn't here. There was a day when a blessing offered was very important. Still is I think, but we don't think about it much here.

Pauline said...

Tomcat - a lot of what we appreciate (or not) comes through experience and our resultant perspective. I imagine I could feel just as rich in some respects on a six figure income but I've never had the chance to try. When I look around though at what I do have, I'm fine with it all.

Barbara - more money than I have would make me happy in the short run as I could dig my way of out some of my oppressive debt. But I agree, just money without any appreciation of what money can't buy simply leads to greed and dissatisfaction.

Nice to see you lakeviewer. Thanks for stopping by.

Cricket - ;)

Ruth - that's the fun of words - they encourage conversation!

Meggie said...

Pauline, what a lovely post. I think it is remembering these things that keeps me going when hours seem dark. There are riches in this life that no money could ever buy!

Reya Mellicker said...

Beautiful post.

Having enough money to pay the bills is a very good thing, but lots and lots of money seems only to give people headaches - or brings out the worst in them. Can you imagine owning several houses? Sounds oppressive to me.

Health is everything. If you have good health, you've got it all.

Love the gratitude here, the healthy minded perspective. I salute you. Brava!