Common thankfulness


This morning, while returning from fetching the mail, I stopped on the walkway and sat on the front lawn with my dog.

Cleo and I looked at a sculpture that’s been in my front yard for the last couple of years for a good long while. My creative husband Wolf made it using various media, even casting his own hands and using my feet for the figure. I was there when it was installed and even had the plaque made at its base, yet often I just don’t see it. But today, it really caught my attention. I actually stopped and sat on the grass for a little while, contemplating what it was all about.

I remember how it all started. Wolf had gone to a class where he learned more about this media and when the project was being birthed, he wanted it to be an important figure we’d once read about.109

Brother Lawrence was a 17th Century monk whose job in French Carmelite monastery was to repair sandals and engage in the tedium of running the kitchen. He began to notice how easy it was for him to get lost in the tedium of his tasks that he would reach the end of the day and realize he had been too busy to think about God all day. This bothered him, and so he began to “practice the presence of God” in big and small things. As he would peel potatoes, he would thank God for making a vegetable that grows in the hard ground of winter. As he would clean the plates of the other brothers, he would thank God that they had just eaten a meal that filled their bellies. He practiced looking for and thanking God in the minutia of life so much so that after awhile, he couldn’t think of a time throughout the day when he HADN’T thought of God.

Wolf was so struck with this perspective shift that this dear, inspirational lowly man became the inspiration for the sculpture.

117Who of us couldn’t use this kind of reminder? When we’re bored, unsatisfied, discontent… I wonder what would happen if we practiced ascribing everything we have and all that we experience to God, acknowledging our thanks out loud to Him? When stuck in traffic, we could thank God for having wheels to get us from here to there. When bored at our desk at work, we could thank Him that we will be rewarded with a paycheck that compensates us more than the majority of the earth enjoys. When transferring yet another load of laundry to the dryer, we can thank Him for shelter, food, and clothing.

If we can practice thanking Him here, who knows what we’ll be capable of when the big stuff hits?


Read more on the life of Brother Lawrence here.

40 thoughts on “Common thankfulness”

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  29. Thanks, Sylvia, for pointing out the importance of gratitude. My dad’s favorite prayer was thank God, despite many hardships for our family as refugees in WW2.
    23 references in the Bible for “Give thanks to the Lord” per Bible Gateway.
    Wolf sure is a talented sculptor.

  30. A pretty remarkable desire on Wolf’s part to sculpt Brother Lawrence…I mean…who does that? But you are remarkable people, that is why you are together; far from ordinary and always looking for the beauty in life. Thanks for sharing another sweet moment out of your amazing life. I love the little book….reminds me to “do all things in love.”

  31. I just saw a Facebook post of this and did you know you have over 100 likes and nearly 60 comments?You struck a chord!

    1. Sylvia: I have been thinking of you and have wanted to let you know how very thankful I am for the CDs you gave to me that bring you to mind. Each time I climb into the car your beautiful voice lifts my spirit.
      Thank you for sharing the gift that our Lord gave you with me.

  32. I truly believe that an attitude of gratitude is the greatest gift we can give to God, ourselves and others. Thanks again for sharing this beautiful message, to Wolf for conceiving and creating the sculpture and also for the extra information link to learn more about Brother Lawrence!

  33. God is in ALL things, great and small, rain and shine. Look for the Blessings. Jer 29.11 “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for good and not evil, plans for hope and a future”. We are always in His plan, look for how He is working in us.

  34. Dear Sylvia…thanks SO much for sharing these thoughts and your sculpture with us. VERY inspiring and special for Wolf to take his talents and produce such a meaningful piece. GLAD that you took the time to meditate on it. Because of that, we have been blessed today. 🙂 I often utilize the thought/truth that “God dwells in the praises of His people.” When I am feeling low, detached, away from the presence of God…I go looking for ways to praise God (much like you described) so that I may once again “practice His presence.” Thanking God for this reminder!

  35. You know me from Women at the Well. Thanks for putting pen to paper re Wolf’s art project. What a beautiful statement and inspiration. How fortunate you are to have this lovely piece to remind you every day how loved you are by our Creator.

  36. Growing up my mother often threw the phrase “Take what you get and say thanks.” She meant it in a negative sense. What I mean is we didn’t get much. Thinking about this a lot lately I have been reminded of all I have now. Do I still want more out of life and relationships or am I satisfied what I do have and am I thankful for what I have. Am I thankful for who and what the Lord has given me? Am I content in where I am? Do I say “Thanks” to God and to those who have given to me whether it be small or great? I am learning to say Thank You each day. I love the statue made by Wolf. I am learning to hold my hands up to God and friends in thankfulness rather than holding them out for more.

  37. You spoke at our women’s retreat a few weeks ago and I fell in love with you. I was just reading all your old blogs and then boom, this one came in. So pure and beautiful, and a great reminder to me of something I take for granted!

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