“When thanksgiving hits a tipping point, it becomes thanksliving and catapults us straight into the will of Christ” Ann Voskamp
Last weekend the sun came out and spring was in the air and I reclaimed my favourite seat in the conservatory, and drank in the only view in our home where the surrounding houses don’t eyeball you. I could feel petals unfurling somewhere deep within.
Richard was about to return home after 12 days away in the Congo. And a lovely, long week of half-term holiday stretched ahead.
Today, a week later, it is snowing and the temperature is doing a ‘sit-in’ on zero degrees. The conservatory is a freezer once again. Yesterday we went for a walk in a forest and froze alongside the frozen pools of water. I got bone cold. Nevertheless I did experience the exhileration of the ‘green shoots’ of new friendships, as we walked with a group of Mum’s-with-their-children.
Throughout, despite the wayward weather, I’ve been counting gifts. I started counting three gifts a day at the start of 2013, a new years resolution. Now it’s come to the point where by 11.00am the gifts are falling fast and furious.
Benjamin’s goodmorning sleepy hug. Our bedroom is always his first port of call. Today he enters with a lively “Bonjour”, in an attempt to shrug off the tendrils of sleep. “Have you heard of Voodoo?” he asks. “Voodoo, ‘you do’, voo means you’ in French”. “Not spelt the same”, my noncommittal sleepy response”. Later I smile deep as I recall this. Ahh my idiocentric son who keeps mining his mum’s heart, uncovering new seams of love.
Richard brings me a hot drink of water with ginger and almond nuts. Don’t ask! He started the day with a jog-about-the-block for the third time in a row.
Joanna decides to recreate her room, the furniture is moved about with the help of Dad, and now visitors to her room no longer have to wade through a swamp of discarded clothes. She’s pleased with herself.
Two overipe bananas sit, waiting, with eyebrows arched, on the kitchen counter. After a bit of a rummage through a variety of ‘worse-for-wear’ recipe books I finally find a banana muffin recipe that only needs two bananas, courtesy of Joannas after school cooking club. It requires chocolate chips (we have cooking chocolate) instead of nuts (the cupboard only has almonds). A green flag is waved for a bit of baking.
There are three small pots of primulas on the kitchen window sill. Yellow, orange and purple. No longer on deaths door. All they needed was some water.
Richard helps clean the one long, narrow diningroom and sittingroom.
Benjamin gets an e-mail from the first-friend-he-ever-made in the UK. He goes to a different school now but he tells Benjamin he might be going to the same secondary school as Benjamin.
I forget to put the chocolate chips, so effeciently created by Joanna with the help of a plastic bag and rolling pin, in the muffin mix. I have a mini tantrum in the kitchen stomping my feet up and down in quick succession. I imagine probably very like my two year old self was prevented from doing. It’s my kitchen now, I’ll stomp my feet if I want to! The baking has lost its bonhomie. Do I scratch it from my list of gifts?
12 banana muffins and a thin banana loaf sit on my sideboard minus their chocolate chips. My tummy rumbles. It’s lent and I’ve given up sugar in all its many forms. My echo of hunger reminds me of the ‘tempo de forme’ (time of hunger) in rural Mozambique. I remember the shock when I first heard a Mozambican refer to it as a matter of fact one January, as an aside almost. Like the fact that for two months people are hungry, as their food stocks are running out, eaten by people, rats and weavels, and the harvest is not yet in, is just some kind of freak side-show, best ignored.
Perhaps this is the origin of Lent. When people lived off the land, food reserves at this time of year, as winter drags on and spring fights valiantly to take center stage, would have been very low. Best to offer this gnawing hunger as a gift of thanks for the greatest of all gifts.
I relook at the banana-without-the-chocolate-chip muffins with eyes that see. I’m humbled, palms open in thanksgiving.