Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Ann Voskamp's "One Thousand Gifts"
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp is all of these things, and more. I’ve never read a book quite like this one. I’ve never been moved in quite this way by a book, either.
She begins with an accidental death – of her sister when they were young children. The death and its aftermath, an aftermath that never really ends, radiate outwardly. Embracing and engulfing the family, ricocheting and echoing through time, affecting and touching so many and so much.
Voskamp asks this question: “How do I fully live when life is full of hurt? How do I wake up to joy and grace and beauty and all that is the fullest life when I must stay numb to losses and crushed dreams and all that empties me out?”
And then she answers it, by taking us on a journey that is rather unexpected – the journey of the daily, the small things, those little things that comprise a day, a moment, a life. She begins to see what she calls the eucharisteo, a combination of grace, thanksgiving and joy. It’s there. It’s there for her and for all of us. But this journey happens in fits and starts, advances and setbacks, something we all recognize as life.
She starts keeping a list of gifts she already has, the gifts she purposely begins to notice, like the “cry of blue jay from high in the spruce.” The list eventually reaches and passes one thousand gifts.
Along this journey, we find time, grace, aching hurt, disbelief, emptiness and intimacy. And we find God, always God, for that’s to whom this book is really addressed.
An honest, raw and bleeding, loving epistle to God.
And I've started a list, too.
1. Snow lingering like cake frosting in our north-facing backyard.
6. Two little boys standing outside the grocery store, collecting food for the hungry.
9. The church choir bursting forth with "All Creatures of Our God and King," and singing a leavening of Alleluias.
She's right. It's eucharisteo.
Ann Voskamp blogs at A Holy Experience.