Quiet Moments of Gratitude

June 11, 2018
The Rev. Canon Heather L. Melton, Staff Officer for the United Thank Offering

UTO cactusI currently live in a place that NOAA has described as suffering from a “severe drought,” which means we’d need six to nine inches of rain to make up what we’re missing. Two weeks ago, the skies turned dark and it smelled like rain, but the moisture never made it to the ground. On Sunday, after church, the skies once again turned gray and there was thunder, hail, and rain for a few minutes. It was beautiful. Rain in the desert is always a gift. Ecosystems thrive on moments like this one, even if they only last a few minutes. The cacti are blooming, bright red and bright purple, in my neighborhood. I watched my children play in the rain as if some ancient part of their genetic code knew the importance of this small bit of rain making it to the earth. I sat on the step, breathing in the smell of rain and hearing their laughter, and I gave thanks. I gave thanks for the quiet moment that was unfolding around me, and I realized how often I take for granted the everyday moments of life on this planet (fragile earth our island home comes to mind) and the wonderful ways God is working God’s purposes out all around us.

Quiet moments are so easy to miss, and I wonder at what cost we miss them. It is easy to overlook the small, quiet ways that the world is moving around us as we stare deeply into the abyss of our to-do lists. I started thinking about this while visiting some ruins near where we live. My children are extremely into the Junior Ranger program at the National Parks. They have their blue NPS passport books (which they are very serious about getting stamped), and I’ve made them a banner to display their badges and patches. Recently, we’ve been visiting archeological sites, which are really interesting to go to with small people. Thinking about how people lived and how the environment really dominated their ability to thrive has made me realize that the quiet things of my life – the movement of the earth and sun, the falling (or not) of the rain, and the changing seasons – were not quiet at all for them. Ancient people built structures with walls and windows that perfectly aligned with the rising sun on solstice, a day I often forget all about. I wonder how many quiet moments they missed, in the midst of their lives, which seem so challenging compared to my own. Or were they better at noticing the opportunities to give thanks?

As my General Convention to-do list dominates my thinking most days, I am grateful that the ebb and flow of life in a few weeks will carry away this busy time for a few more years, but I’m also grateful for the wonderful fruit that it bears. Quietly, we’ve been working on so many awesome things for General Convention that I honestly can’t wait to share them with you in Austin, or here in the newsletter after it’s over. As I think about the rain falling, I also wonder what quiet things God will do in the midst of the busy time of Convention next month. Three years ago, one of my daughters took her first step at General Convention – a quiet moment of joy for those of us that were there to see it or hear about it. This memory is a reminder for me to watch for the movement of the Holy Spirit in the midst of the quiet that is sometimes hard to hear at Convention. I hope you’ll join me in seeking it out. Quiet moments when God surprises us with kindness, joy, hope, or excitement are moments to give thanks. Quiet moments are often the best chance, for me at least, to remember that we were created for more than strife, to remember that God sent us into this broken and hurting world as signs of God’s infinite love. Ultimately, the quiet moments remind us that we can be rain in the desert. We can be signs of kindness, joy, and hope for someone drowning in work, sorrow, fear, or oppression. So, I hope you’ll join me in seeking out quiet moments for gratitude and in trying to create them in the midst of a time that is often loud, busy, and overwhelming. May these quiet moments be like rain in the desert – a sign of the hope and goodness of God unfolding in the midst of us. If you’re in Austin, stop by the UTO Booth and let me know the quiet ways God is showing up in your life, or the quiet ways you’ve helped God show up for others, so I can give thanks with you.

Note: Due to General Convention and the release of so many awesome things there, the July E-News will be a combined July-August edition that will come out at the end of July.