It’s two o’clock on Tuesday, and you’re tired. You’re at work and you want to go home, but once you’re home you’ll have more stress, more responsibility. You look ahead into your life and it seems hard, or boring, or frightening. For whatever reasons, you are consumed with this thing called “worry,” though maybe you don’t call it that. You call it “thinking” or “being distracted.”
So that’s me. All the time. Every day it seems, lately, but I particularly remember one day in June, when I was sitting outside on the ground, weeding bits of dead moss out of live moss.
The mossy area was wooded, with tall, clean-trunked pines and sloping ground, not flat but with nubs of small hills, and one larger hill at the west edge, so beyond it looks like the never-neverlands. It was beautiful there, on the moss. And I do get paid for this. I’m a gardener; it’s my job to beautify the world. It’s a gift, I know. But it doesn’t usually feel like one.
But it was colder that day, maybe forty-five degrees. I wore jeans, boots, thick socks, a long-sleeved shirt, a hooded sweatshirt with the hood up, and a raincoat. Perhaps I was lonely, unsure of myself, just wanting to shut out the world. I put my hood up when I’m like that, afraid to face things.
There was much dead moss. We—two coworkers and I—sat for two hours or so, picking at browning, dead bits. My mind was everywhere. On relationships I feared weren’t okay. On where I was living. On money. On work.
I’ve been consumed by worry a lot lately. Or maybe it’s always been there, but I’m just noticing it now, feeling it and knowing it and being brave enough to label it. So maybe this is spiritual warfare? The negative thinking, the overthinking, the consummation of fear and doubt make me weak with tiredness, miserable with self-loathing. Guilt. I feel so guilty, always, when I find myself caught up in my thoughts.
Why can’t I shake the bad thoughts? The worrying? It was—and is—overwhelming.
And then I looked up, across the moss, through the trees, and the sunlight dappled down through the branches and made the moss glow green—lime and almost yellow.
Just thank God for things, I heard in my head. It wasn’t my mother’s voice, nor God’s voice, but my own. Maybe from my better self, my true self—the soul of me, where all the good springs up and flows. Light spreads into my arms and fingers and eyes and my body lifts with the energy of it, just goodness. I know it when it comes. I feel that light. It’s God. It’s grace.
Just list the things you’re thankful for. That was what I told myself then, sitting on the moss in that beautiful garden, weeding. And so I did. I started listing. I’ve done this a few times before, just named off blessings until I shook the negativity and could continue on with my day (until the next hard moments came on me).
I don’t remember often enough to adore God, praise him for who he is and what he has already done: given grace.
Beautifully, in the midst of my thanksgiving, I found myself reframing requests, turning “Please be with me today” into “Thank you for your presence.”
“Help me be patient” became “Thank you for your peace” or “Thank you for your kindness, your faith in me.”
I had realized then—and am still reminding myself today—that God has already granted his love, his mercy; I must only have faith that God is in control. Thanking him is showing my trust in him, is telling him I believe in who he is, in what he has already done for me. God has loved me. Thanking him is merely loving him back.