making waves

PositureWaving is a funny thing if you think about it. Why do we choose to flap our hands around in order to signal something? And it can mean many different things.

A wave can mean ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’. It can say, “I’m over here”. It can be a call for help. When the Queen does her wrist rotation I think it is saying, “One is grateful that you have come out to see one.” We have Mexican Waves at sporting events, which I think either means ‘We’re really bored’ or ‘We’re really enjoying ourselves’. And deaf people applaud by waving their hands.

Of course it’s really important to know what sort of wave is happening to you in order to respond appropriately. I was recently on a boat with a friend and as we passed other boats there were gentle waves that acknowledged that we too were on a boat. But as we were approaching our mooring we saw a couple of people clinging to an upturned sailing dinghy who were waving frantically at us to attract our attention and get some help because they were being taken out to sea on the tide. If we had simply waved back in acknowledgement it would not have been good (we tried to help for a while but then the lifeboat arrived so we left it to the professionals).

In just over a week’s time I am going to be speaking in a church for their Harvest Festival and I have decided to focus on waving. Why? One of the ways in which people in Biblical days celebrated harvest was by waving some of the produce that they had gathered. People would bring the items with them to a celebration and then at a given moment would all wave them in the air. I have come across different explanations for what they were doing (and how they waved them) but in short it seems to me that they were waving them in acknowledgement that God had once again provided for them, that he was faithful in the reliable rotation of the seasons he had programmed into our annual journey around the sun, and to express gratitude to him for all that they had received. Doing it on your own would not feel very impressive, but imagine being in a big crowd where everyone was waving a sheaf of corn, for example. It would be a spectacular reminder of just how many people were feeling blessed and grateful.

Few of us nowadays harvest our own crops but harvest festivals persist as reminders that we should be grateful to God for our planet and the way in which it provides nourishment for us. And we can be grateful too for those who do grow and harvest on our behalf, and even for those who transport them and who sell them to us. It’s a moment when our attitude of gratitude gets a boost and we are reminded to be grateful 24/7.

So what would you take to a Harvest festival to wave in order to show gratitude to God?

Be blessed, be a blessing

how are you?

inspiredI wonder if you know anyone who, when you ask them how they are, says, “Oh, I mustn’t complain,” and then they proceed to complain for the next ten minutes?

I am sure I do that sometimes – if not in those exact words at least in spirit. I think we can all tend towards it because the difficult things we face in life can dominate our perspective and fill our horizon. Perhaps anthropologists have an explanation that relates to the need to focus on problem-solving in order to survive, I don’t know. I am not suggesting that we ignore our problems and difficulties like the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand*.

But today I am remembering someone who when you asked him how he was would say, “Oh, I mustn’t complain.” And then he wouldn’t. If you pressed him he would say, “I have a lot to be thankful for.”

And that is incredible because if anyone had a lot to complain about he did. He suffered with a lot of debilitating health problems but he coped with them by refusing to focus on them, but instead focused on the good things in his life, the things for which he was grateful. And it wasn’t just words because if you asked he would have a ready list of things for which he was grateful.

He genuinely had an attitude of gratitude.

And what’s more, because of his faith in Jesus he had someone to be grateful to! The Bible is full of moments when people express thanks to God, but sometimes we forget don’t we?

What are you thankful for today? Make those things your focus and see how that changes things.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

*There’s no evidence that ostriches do put their head in the sand. Apparently they put their heads on the ground to listen for approaching trouble and from a distance it looks like they are burying their head in the sand…