Grace, Thanksgiving, Joy

We only enter into the full life if our faith gives thanksAnn Voskamp

Resurrection power...

Resurrection power...

An except from Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are:

Isn't it here? The wonder? Why do I spend so much of my living hours struggling to see it? Do we truly stumble so blind that we must be affronted with blinding magnificence for our blurry soul-sight to recognize grandeur? The very same surging magnificence that cascades over every day here. Who has time or eyes to notice?

All my eyes can seem to fixate on are the splatters of disappointment across here and me.

I open the bathroom linen closet. Pick up a brush to swish toilets. I don't need more time to breathe so that I may experience more locales, possess more, accomplish more. Because wonder really could be here -- for the seeing eyes.

So -- more time for more what?

The face of Jesus flashes. Jesus, the God-man with his own termination date. Jesus, the God-man who came to save me from prisons of fear and guilt and depression and sadness. With an expiration of less than twelve hours, what does Jesus count as all most important?

"And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them..." (Luke 22:19)

This. I live in this place, make porridge, scrub toilets, do laundry, and for days, weeks, I am brave and I do get out of bed and I think on this. I study this, the full life, the being fully ready for the end. I start to think that maybe there is a way out of nightmares to dreams? Maybe?

I run my finger across the page. I read it slowly. In the original language, "he gave thanks" reads "eucharisteo." I underline it. Can it lay a foundation under a life? Offer the fullest life?

The root word of eucharisteo is charis, meaning "grace." Jesus took bread and saw it as grace, charis. But it also holds its derivative, the Greek chara, meaning "joy." Joy. Ah... yes. I might be needing me some of that. That might be what the quest for more is all about -- that what Augustine claimed, "Without exception...all try their hardest to reach the same goal, that is, joy."

I breathe deep, like a sojourner finally coming home. That has always been the goal of the fullest life-- joy. And my life knew exactly how elusive that slippery three-letter word, joy, can be. I think of it again, the night of nightmares, the flailing, frantic, moon-eyed lunge for more. More what? And this is it; I could tell my whole being responded to that one word. I longed for more life, for more holy joy.

That's what I was struggling out of nightmares to reach, to seize. Joy. But where can I seize this holy grail of joy? I look back down to the page. Was this the clue to the quest of all most important? Deep chara joy is found only at the table of the euCHARisteo -- the table of thanksgiving. I sit there long ... wondering... is it that simple? Is the height of my chara joy dependent on the depth of my eucharisteo thanks?

So then as long as thanks is possible ... I think this through. As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible. Joy is always possible. Whenever, meaning -- now; wherever, meaning -- here. The holy grail of joy is not in some exotic location or some emotional mountain peak experience. The joy wonder could be here! Here, in the messy, piercing ache of now, joy might be possible! The only place we need see before we die is this place of seeing God, here and now.

I whisper it out loud, let the tongue feel these sounds, the ear hear their truth.

Charis. Grace.

Eucharisteo. Thanksgiving.

Chara. Joy.

A triplet of stars, a constellation in the black. A threefold cord that might hold a life? Offer a way up into the fullest life? Grace, thanksgiving, joy. Eucharisteo. A Greek word... that might make meaning of everything?