I went to bed last night feeling yucky.  I know that’s not a real feeling, but it best describes the mix of emotions that were bubbling up inside of me.  I felt restless, irritable, and discontent.  I had my reasons.  I’d been misunderstood and judged by a friend.  My car is leaking something in a puddle of pending trouble in my garage.  A check I’d received as payment for work done bounced.  I could go on . . . . 

I woke up this morning remembering a commitment I made to myself for the month of November — that I would spend an hour each day giving thanks.  I decided it might not be a bad idea to begin first thing on this first day of November during my first waking hour especially since I was feeling a residue of “yuckiness” from the night before. 

As I reached for the light and turned off my alarm clock, I noticed that both worked predictably with little effort from me.  1.6 billion people in this world live without electricity and rely on wood, dung, and agricultural waste (which cause air pollution, one of the world’s top ten causes of premature death).  So I gave thanks for electricity and that I don’t ever have to even think about dung when I turn on my light.

I always check my Blackberry first thing in the morning.  I know it’s geeky and a little scary, but I love my Blackberry.  I even have nightmares about losing it.  There might be an element of addiction there and life might be less stressful if we weren’t constantly connected to our telephones, but I’m grateful for my cell phone.  Most people on earth live more than two hours from a telephone.  Most places in the world do not have access to basic Internet, and over one-quarter of the world’s population is without postal service.  I scrolled down the screen on my cell phone and noted the number of people I talked to yesterday, the one waiting voice mail, and several new email messages and gave thanks.  I read a recent study about loneliness in the United States and remember feeling deep sadness at its finding — that 1/4 of Americans report that they have no one to talk to. 

And then I used my bathroom.  I remember being in Cambodia a few years ago and needing to find a restroom on one of our drives across country.  I announced my need to our guide and casually offered, “It will be fine to just stop at a gas station.”  She quickly shook her head at my ignorant suggestion and explained, “Oh, no that would not be good.  We will stop at a nice house and pay to use their bathroom.”  We finally found a house that she thought looked suitable, knocked on the door and offered these strangers $1.00 to use their outhouse with a clean, dirt floor and a hole in the ground surrounded by wooden boards.   Until my trip to this country I didn’t know that over half of the world’s population does not have toilets. 

Next I turned on the water faucet (one of six in my home) to get a drink of water.  For a quarter of the world’s population a glass of clean water is never an option, which is why over 2 million people die every year from diseases they get from simply drinking water.  With every sip, I gave thanks.

I laced up my Nike’s and stepped outside for my morning run.  As always, the sun was rising.  I thought about some words a dear friend had sent me via email (that I read with my laser-corrected vision on my Blackberry):  “The world is full of resurrections.  Every night that folds us up in darkness is a death, and those of you that have been out early, and have seen the first dawn, will know it — the day rises out of the night like a being that has burst its tomb and escaped into life” (George MacDonald).  I took in the sunrise and prayed, “Thank you, for another resurrection.”

And then I turned on my I-pod to listen to music — music that fills me with joy, anticipation, faith, and hope.  I have always been grateful for music.  To think that 9-22 people out of every 1,000 people in the United States has a severe hearing impairment makes me grateful that I can hear the words and the melody coming from a three-inch miraculous device that contains all my favorite songs.

As I run I contemplate the day ahead — a day off from work for me!  Because I am a bit prone to workaholism, I say a prayer for the 12% of all Americans who work seven days a week and ask for the grace to rest.

When I finish my exercise, I jump in my car which seems to run fine even with the mysterious leak, and drive to get a bagel and coffee.  There’s so much that I could give thanks for that is crammed into this daily ritual.  My heart overflows with gratitude as I savor every bite of a pumpkin bagel, lathered with peanut-butter.  I will never forget the pictures I saw of families in Haiti in their daily ritual of making cookies from dirt, salt, and vegetable shortening.  The cookies are their entire meal. 

It only took the highlights from a single hour in my day to confirm that I have a lot to be grateful for.  In fact, my ability to write this note and your ability to read it on a computer with Internet access, confirms that we are in the top 25% richest people in the world!  Today I want to notice all my riches and give thanks.

“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God . . . .” 1 Thessalonians 5:18