It’s not a pretty day in Toronto, this Easter Sunday. It’s gloomy cloudy and since last evening the clear streets and beginnings of green lawns and gardens sprouting have been covered over by snow. Snow pouring down from the skies when we’re all wishing for sunshine and spring to finally arrive.
But, it’s a miracle of sorts. It offers a blank slate again, all that white empty void to be filled. For me, it feels like empty pages following me everywhere. Every time I think I’ve filled one up, another appears. Another application, another view of the future that reminds me what it really is: not a void, but a blank space waiting to be filled by me and by the other forces God has brought into my small slice of the universe. It’s a reminder to continue nourishing all the plants and life, the families and friends hibernating inside, the bodies waiting to be moving and soaking in the rays of the sun.
These blank pages are like the ones I learned to treasure this Lenten season. I decided to add something to my daily life this year, something I tried to do it last year before housing distress, confusion, and a quick move distracted me from my daily meditation devotion.
There’s one thing to be grateful for: although the winter persists, I am no longer dreaming of safe housing–I live with two wonderful young women in a house filled with a mixture of silence, music, and chatter.
Before I moved out of home to attend Rice University, I had never truly committed to Lent. I’d discussed it before, but in middle school and high school all these people giving up soda and chocolate just seemed silly, denying themselves it seemed more to get attention for appearing healthier and more devout. Not to mention that giving up something for Lent was never required or a big deal at my United Methodist church. But as a freshman in a new phase of adult life, my own new plan for Lent. I gave up chocolate, which only led to more non-chocolate desserts and a few instances of inhaling chocolate brownies for a play I was in. The next year I gave up iPhone games, which worked so well that I never re-downloaded them. But it felt like a cheat–Lenten denials are not supposed to be a way to create better habits; they are supposed to remind us of God’s presence. I gave up TV the next year, the worst idea for my mental health. TV gave me structure during my first lonely semester back at Rice after studying abroad. Giving things up only made me more isolated.
So I stopped.
But this year, I decided to write a prayer every day. It didn’t have to be long. It didn’t have to reference all the other people in needs of prayers in the world. It could be selfish, but it had to be written down.
It’s been the best Lenten resolution I’ve made to date. And very timely.
I find that I write more gratitude when I record my prayers. I’m sure I say these things to myself when I’m nodding off to sleep, waking up to sunshine, or other small and big good things appear in my life, but this way records them and writing “Thank you” so many times within ~40 days definitely helps a person remember all the wonderful things God’s presence has provided.
I write so much I never thought writing an additional 100 or so words a day could make a noticeable difference in my world view. But it has–yet another unexpected Lenten miracle.
During these past 40 days, I’ve been on multiple interviews, a trip back to my alma mater, and continued adjusting to a life with my parents living across the globe and a day-to-day routine that embraces the one goal I do know how to pursue: writing scripts. Being a little extra thankful has helped me keep perspective. In roundabout ways, it brought me back to this blog.
In the past few new posts, I’ve kept mentioning how difficult it’s been for me to accept myself as a writer and keep pursuing that artist’s path. I drop hints about losing hope, about comparing myself too much to other writers and artists in theatre and film, about feeling completely out of my depth.
Today, Easter Sunday, I want to bring this prayer of gratitude out into public view. To be grateful for everything I do have–the support that is pushing me forward and keeping me safe all the time, whether it snows, rains, hails, or burns in sunshine outside.
- A house that keeps me safe, warm, dry, and provides space for hosting friends and my creative wanderings.
- Family scattered across the globe that want to support me no matter what and help me grow more from the example they provide and lives they lead.
- Friends that fill in for that family and prove that blood relations aren’t the only people who care for me. They remind me that what I contribute to the universe is priceless and valuable, worth investing their time and energy for the love and loyalty they receive from me.
- A creative imagination that won’t rest, won’t accept any obstacles placed before it, and won’t let me turn too far away from the stories that have sustained and nourished me throughout my life. More than anything else, this strength teaches me patience–waiting for the lines I’ve cast out into the world to come back with the opportunities it hungers to accept.
- Opportunities to explore from the past, present, and future. The more people I meet in Toronto by just walking out my front door and walking through the park, the more thankful I am for growing up in various parts of the States, road trips, waiting until high school for trips abroad, studying abroad, traveling alone, moving to Canada for graduate school, living in a city, and someday soon visiting Asia–and I’m sure many other places I’ve never considered. I’m so lucky to get to see so much of the world and possess the talent to channel it into shareable words.
The only cure for envy is gratitude.
Or comparison. Or a long, drawn out winter filled with more no’s than yes’s. So that’s the miracle I’m cultivating for myself these days. Not because it’s easy or that it will quickly solve any of my problems, but because even though it’s snowing on Easter, it’s the right way to give thanks for the miracles God is bestowing on me. And to keep praying for the sun to stay out and bring the next season of life (please pretty pretty please).