Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Blessings Jar

For many years, my church has performed the same ritual, or a variation thereof, on the first Sunday in January..


We are given a sheet of paper. On it we write the things we are wishing for in the new year, OR we write the things we want to do away with—bad habits and all. It's the minister's choice. I might write "be on time", or "eat healthy foods", or on the other side of the coin, I might say "I will stop being negative" or "I will not procrastinate."  My statements might be like wishes on birthday candles: " I will be in perfect health this year," or "My books will become best sellers." Then we walk up front and stick the paper into the flame of a candle, and burn those words—send them out to the universe, so to speak.


In another version of the same thing, we write on our piece of paper, put it in an envelope, seal it, and put it in the offering plate when it comes around. Next December it will be mailed back to us so we can see that everything that has materialized. (Yeah, right.) I don't think I've ever seen one thing in my envelope come to pass. I'm never more patient, neater, thinner, nor more organized.


This year I was expecting the same old same old, but the minister surprised us. She had us bring a jar to church, and she handed out a slip of paper that reads, "My Blessings Jar. When you experience a blessing, write it down and put it in here & count your blessings whenever you need a lift." We taped the message on the outside of the jar and put it where we would see it every day. I think this is going to work--maybe not exactly the way it's stated on my jar, but in an even better way.


Counting your blessings is certainly a good idea, but I see another benefit to the slips of paper in the jar—actually looking for blessings. I think we often overlook the good things that come to us, but we are all too eager to tell the bad things that come along. And there are even some people who says things like "that always happens to me" or "nothing good ever happens". With the jar sitting by the computer, and I'm on the computer every day, my attention is drawn to the good in my life—that extra little bump that makes me say "Thank you, God!", since something has occurred that is more than just having a good day. I'm sure I'll be counting those blessings more often than I used to. I'm just as sure that if I wasn't writing them on slips of paper and putting them where I can see them every day, I'd forget to actively watch for them.


So that stirred up something else in my thought process. Why not do the same thing for coincidences? If what Albert Einstein said, (or whoever really did say it, if not him,)  "Coincidences are God's way of remaining anonymous," is true, then coincidences are signposts, pointing the way to . . . what? A discovery? Could coincidences really be arrows showing us the path? Like signs that say, "turn here", "go this way," or "stop before you get hurt," maybe we need to pay closer attention.


Some years ago I watched a TV program about people who won the lottery (or more than one.) One of the people they featured was a man who had won (and was still winning) lotteries. He said he watched for numbers wherever he went. He remembered the numbers, and if they repeated, that's the numbers he played. He had trained himself to be aware of the numbers around him: street numbers, dates, time, phone numbers, etc. In one instance, he stopped to help a woman who had a flat tire. As he changed it for her, he took mental note of her license number. When he bought his lotto card for the day, he picked her license number. It won big.


I'm a reader. Writers are, you know, or they wouldn't be writers for long. There are times coincidences come by way of the books I choose. I'll pick a book completely at random, and then the next one, and the next, and I'll find that something about them is the same. It might be similarity in the base on which the plot is formed, or the characters have the same name, or the books take place in the same city. Mind you, I haven't read the cover or a review, or anything else that would have told me, but there they are, alike in one or more ways. I remember one time I read three novels in a row that all took place in the forests of the far northwest. I had no idea until I was deep into each book. Just a coincidence. Hmm. Just because I notice the coincidences doesn't mean I know what it means.


So I'm putting a little notebook beside the computer, and like the blessing jar reminds me to watch for blessings, I hope the notebook will help me watch for coincidences. I can only anticipate that they will point me somewhere I need to go . . .  or think about. Maybe they'll point me toward a blessing.





1 comment:

  1. I like that idea. It's even easier than a gratitude journal.