To tell you the truth, right in the middle of this annual little dare to write down dozens of gifts and graces every day that I was thankful for, my spectacles snapped right in half one morning mid-November, and I became about as blind as a bat.

What’s on the screen? No idea?
What’s really at me feet? You tell me?
How’s the recipe reading? You kidding me?

Without the right kind of lens, your whole world warps wrong.
Without a pair of lenses to push up the bridge of my nose, my everydays ended up looking a lot like me looking at things real hard, screwing and squinting eyes up tight, leaning in, trying to decipher the code and shape of this old world.

Without wading into the comedy of errors that landed me there, I was the girl in a daunting super-aisle at Home Depot groping around for the right kind of glue with certain bonding super-powers, to successfully hold the nose bridge of said broken specs, to the lens — only to have the glue hold the wobbly bridge of my glasses for not long enough, so eventually there was no bridging back to the land of the seeing.

The bridge kept breaking.

And the whole world blurred.

No text was large enough, near or far.

No facial expressions across any room were striking enough for me to read.

No sign in any part of our neck of the woods had a font large enough for me not to be one very severe safety hazard on the roads.
Standing in front of the kitchen window with my cup of steaming coffee, looking out at a November morning, my joy-dare, gratitude journal there on the counter, that’s about the only thing I could see clearly:

The bridge to joy breaks, and the whole world blurs, when we lose our lens of gratitude.

It’s a complicated, unjust, profoundly heartbreaking world, and it’s also true that:

When we don’t have enough of the right focus, the world never seems right enough.

When we don’t give thanks enough, nothing in the world seems like enough.

What we have right now, where we are right now, our whole worlds right now, never seem to be enough, when the way we are seeing things is out of focus.

This is painfully true, that there are deep wrongs in the world and in our world, and all kinds of ache that desperately needs righted, and it’s also true that:
Without a lens of gratitude, everything looks like lack.

Every screen we turn to, and every road we turn down, keeps saying that we don’t have enough, that we need more, need to buy more, need to have more, need to be more. But the bridge to joy actually holds when we can whisper thanks more.

Giving thanks is what always gives us back our vision.

Gratefulness lets us see that, in the midst of great pain, there is still great grace, enough grace, real grace.

Gratitude doesn’t say that we blithely ignore all the excruciating things and simply accept the status-quo, but gratitude means that we intentionally notice all the everyday things, and accept God’s grace, in all things, with thanks.

“We ought to give thanks for all,” is what C. S. Lewis wrote. “If it is good, because it is good; if bad, because it works in us patience, humility,… and the hope of our eternal country.”

Which means:

We can give thanks in all — because everything is already good, or God is working it all into good.

So all is grace.

I wrote it once, more than a decade ago, and I only believe it more, after more trauma in the last few years than I ever could have imagined would happen when I wrote those lines:

“I know there is poor and hideous suffering, and I’ve seen the hungry and the guns that go to war. I have lived pain, and my life can tell: I only deepen the wound of the world when I neglect to give thanks for early light dappled through leaves and the heavy perfume of wild roses in early July and the song of crickets on humid nights and the rivers that run and the stars that rise and the rain that falls and all the good things that a good God gives.” ~excerpt from One Thousand Gifts

Contemplating the gifts and goodness of God with thanksgiving, moves you to be an activist to pass those gifts and grace and goodness of God out into a hurting world, living given.

Thanksgiving … becomes living given.

After my glued-together glasses break yet again, I finally just order new glasses and wait for the new lenses to wing their way to me over this world that’s hurting in all kinds of ways.

And together, we weep, and we ache, and we still give thanks, because the one lens we can’t ever afford to lose is the lens of gratitude.

Because the lens of gratefulness lets us see how there is still great grace in the world, and we actually are the ones who have enough grace, and enough gifts and giftedness, to be part of bringing great change, and greater grace, into the world.

The lens of gratitude lets us see hope — because it lets us see the face of God still here.

Turns out, everywhere you look:

This can be a far-sighted world that can’t see how God is far closer than ever imagined, and He is still working all the hardest things into far more gifts, and more good, than ever could be imagined.

And, it’s about this time of year, in the midst of these sacred everydays, I pull out my gratitude list of gifts — and pens have eyes to see, and ink giving thanks is a soul lens, and all can be glass to God.

The last of the leaves fall.

And the thanks still rises on, like an awakening that can’t be stopped.

Ann Voskamp