By Sandy Barton
Blessings. What are they, really? I used to think they were “things” granted to me and I was simply the lucky recipient. But life has a way of setting the record straight.
I can’t remember where I read it or what the context was, but I will never forget the gist of the words … life can be a difficult teacher – often times first you take the test, then you get the lesson. How true it is.
In the past few months, our family has spent a great deal of time together celebrating, eating, visiting, surprising, grieving, supporting and sharing the day-to-day. It was during these times that I sat back and took notice of the dynamics of family. There was nothing shockingly new, rather a gentle nudge from the universe that blessings come in many forms, at many times, and for many reasons.
Our tests were of the garden variety ilk – far too many to list, from the obvious to the well-hidden, from the profound to the slight. Some of them we would have gladly refused, had we been given the option, but that’s not how life goes, is it?
As for the lessons, well, they seemed to come wrapped in boxes with lots of tape, forcing us to take our time, begging us to be present in the moment, asking us to reflect. Ah, those lessons weren’t lost on us. Instead they showed us what true blessings are. I believe that blessings are not bestowed upon “worthy” subjects; blessings are moments of gratitude, flashes of ahas. They’re all around us as long as we take the time to recognize them, lift them a wee bit higher than their surroundings, brush off the dust from their journey, and let their light shine.
In our home, blessings come in the form of blueberries and Cheerios that continue to appear in the strangest places, and in various degrees of decomposition. What’s the blessing in that, you ask? It’s the reminder of mornings with our toddler grandchildren perfecting their spoon-using skills at breakfast. Those perfect faces, those delicious smiles, those precious souls wrapped in snuggly jammies … now that’s a blessing.
Or perhaps it’s the fingerprints from tiny hands still clinging to the windows; the image of them watching the snow fall is etched in my mind. The blessing is also in the heart stickers that we are finding all over the house now that the little ones have gone … all of them no more than two feet off the ground, just high enough to remind us that blessings need not be lofty.
Knowing that our blessings are sometimes unseen but always present, gives us reason to watch with expectant eyes, to feel with empathetic hearts, and to discover what is waiting to be found.
True blessings are not given to us, they’re uncovered by us, in our struggles and our triumphs, our heartaches and our joys, our boisterous celebrations and our quiet reflections. It’s in the recognizing of our blessings that we find the courage to move forward, and it’s in the gratitude we feel when all is right in our little corner of the world, that we find immeasurable blessings everywhere we look.
I am confident that as long as I have family and friends walking with me in this life, I will have tests and heavily taped boxes of lessons. I suspect the blueberries and stickers may yield their place in my heart to some other endearing souvenir of a treasured visit or moment in time. I am a blessed person … not because I have been deemed worthy, but because I happen to be a collector of the blessings I uncover every day.
Sandy Barton, a Town of Tonawanda author, is learning to recognize life’s lessons.