Finding grace in the little things

By Ellaine Downie

Remember that old ‘grace’ our children used to sing at church camps?

Thank you for the world so sweet

Thank you for the food we eat

Thank you for the birds that sing

Thank you God for everything.

I always despised it.

It was twee and simplistic, designed only for tiny children. Adults like me didn’t relate to it at all. It was clichéd, naïve and annoyingly “happy”.

Why couldn’t we sing something with a bit more oomph or meaning? Even doing the Superman grace was a step up from this (and that’s saying something).

But at the moment the words of this little song keep coming into my mind.

As I walk out each day, every day, for miles and miles to while away the hours, I am gradually starting to appreciate how important it is to be in the outdoors. To walk down a track surrounded by the scent of lemon gums. To see the stunning colours of camellias blooming in old-fashioned gardens. To look forward to sitting with my take-away coffee on the one seat on this track with a view of a majestic pale grey eucalpyt – four stories high – silently watching over my little domain.

Thank you for the world so sweet.

If you are like me you look forward to that major event of the day – a walk to the nearest supermarket or the fruit shop to top up the already overflowing fridge with even more goodies. When we see footage of other countries in lockdown where people have to rely on food being delivered to their homes by charities, online shops or even passing strangers, we realise that we in Australia have never lacked for food. It might be a bit like being in a war, but we have never been starving.

Thank you for the food we eat.

In lockdown, what do you do to rest and wind down? For me, music has been so important for relaxation. To have music to play – even if alone – has been a key way of coping with these days of deprivation.

But now I have discovered another source of beautiful music. As I do my daily walk to and from the coffee shop, lorikeets, currawongs and magpies are thrilling the air with song. I guess I heard them before, but now I actually listen to them. Their songs have become more beautiful than any virtuoso playing at an over-priced concert, more meaningful than the finest audio recording. A purity, a beauty, a song just given to me, bringing comfort and joy.

Thank you for the birds that sing.

So in lockdown what am I learning? It feels like I’m being dragged kicking and screaming to finally appreciate incidental things, small things I have so long taken for granted. Things I have walked past for years and never really seen.

And these small things remind me of bigger things I have also taken for granted – freedom to move where I want, to visit whom I want, to participate in worthwhile work, to make new friends, to dance, to be part of a worship service, to share the excitement of crowds.

Perhaps all of these had to be put on hold before I was able to see all the little things I never noticed before. When I glimpse these small gifts of grace – these little things I have rarely acknowledged – I can almost bring myself to say:

Thank you for the world so sweet

Thank you for the food we eat

Thank  you for the birds that sing

Thank you God for everything.

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