I’m reading two books that have slapped me in the face with their life-revealing realities. I’ve spent so much of my adult life worrying, trying to meet pressure from society and family as to how to live my life, what to do. I’ve seen so much suffering, both in third world countries and in the West; in fact, everywhere I go, I’ve begun to narrow in on the suffering and ignore the positive. I’ve entered into that cynical club I despised as a child.
It’s not that one should ignore suffering and ‘bad’ things in the world: one shouldn’t ignore the good. And how many of us do this? How many of us complain about what we lack instead of what we have? How many moments float by, ignored by our chaotic complaining minds that are too busy to see the blessings amidst us.
In 1000 Gifts, Ann Voskamp delivers a sacred wake up call, her journey to seeing the gifts that God gives us. She uses her Christian faith and the Bible to lead her to the truth of what is in front of her at all times: gifts. This book has changed my life so dramatically, and I’m not even half way yet. Ann puts her finger on what I have felt for so long, a constant lack everywhere I turn. Her incredible prose inspires and surreal photos have forced me to confront reality, which isn’t a harsh, 24/7 cruel world but one with millions of gifts, no matter where we are in life. This is somewhat hard to fathom, but when one begins the Gift list ( gratitude journal of grace moments throughout the day), the shift begins and transforms one’s being. I have experienced this shift myself, and am nothing short of stunned.
1000 Gifts has also opened me up the messages in the Bible I was not taught when I went to Catholic school as a child. Though I am not a Christian, I am religious and monotheistic, and Ann’s insight into the Bible and the passages she cites have completely inspired me to read it again, as well as mystics who have lived and breathed the words into their own lives.
The second book I have just finished, is called Jnana Yoga written by the scholar Swami Vivekananda. An interfaith look at the importance of all religions and religious philosophy, Swamiji lectured in the late 1800s to Western scientists and philosophers on how religion is essential to man’s quest for unity and communion with the Divine. He does not sell a particular religion nor dogma but instead respects all beliefs and ways of realizing one’s faith. He died at age 39, after having traveled extensively all over the globe to preach his teacher’s message of helping mankind ascend and go beyond materialism.
Both of these humble works have inspired me to start my own Grace journal where I can see the divine in tiny moments throughout the day, making it far more sacred then I could have ever imagined. As I unschool ( homeschool) my family, i want my children to see beauty all around them, no matter where we are at financially and no matter what happens. I highly recc both of these books to anyone interested in enjoying life, at the same time as aiding mankind and all lifeforms on earth.