60 gifts I’m grateful for (Part 6/final)

51. Travel – I’ve been in 40+ countries in my life, and I am so grateful that my dad instilled in me a love for travel at a young age. I never had a passport until I was about 40, so these last twenty years have been an incredible education … and a great blessing.
52. The Earth – the more of it I’ve gotten to see, the more I realize what a miracle it is. From the Big Bang until now, it has evolved and survived incredible catastrophes. My little 60 years is a blip in its amazing career. Plate tectonics, the magnetic field, the moon and tides, seasons, winds, polar ice caps, rainforests, ocean currents, the carbon cycle … every dimension of the earth fills me with wonder and awe, and gratitude to the Creator. I realize that even this body in which I happen is composed of molecules that were once in stars, then in interstellar dust, then in rock and soil, then in other living creatures. I have borrowed a small share of matter and energy for 60 years and will someday relinquish my share for others to use and enjoy. What a gift!
53. My professional team … my literary agent Kathy, my booking agent Laci, my fellow Senior Fellows at Auburn, my colleagues in Convergence and Center for Progressive Renewal, my fellow writers: I am surrounded by talented and good-hearted people, for whom I am deeply grateful.
54. Publishers: My career as a writer (almost 20 years of my 60) has coincided with a time of transition in the book industry, and I know it’s not easy to be a publisher in these times. That’s why I’m grateful that Zondervan took a risk on a new “young” writer in 1998. Then I’m grateful my later partnerships with Jossey-Bass, Thomas Nelson, HarperOne, Jericho, and now Penguin/Random House/Convergent. Thanks to all the editors who have worked with me. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished together.
55. Sabbatical: A couple years ago, I started feeling tired … not just physically, but in my brain. Because my speaking gigs are scheduled 1.5 to 2 years out, I knew that when I stepped on the brakes, it would take that long to stop. I’m so grateful that I could take this time (guided by a coach/therapist provided by Auburn Senior Fellows program) to reassess and get a fresh vision (aided by several friends and colleagues) for what my highest and best contribution can be for the years ahead. And I’m grateful that my wife has been putting food on the table for us this year!
56. Plans: I’ve always been a planner and goal-setter, and I’m so grateful that during this sabbatical, clarity has been gradually emerging about my future.
57. Spiritual Practices: I’m grateful for the practices I learned back when I was in college … journaling, spiritual direction/mentoring, practicing the Presence, Bible reading and prayer … and for the practices I’ve learned more recently (like the value of sabbatical). They have sustained me and enriched my life immeasurably.
58. Possessions: My guitars, my laptop, my faithful old “sport utility Prius,” my kayaks and fly rods, my home and yard (and mango trees), and my new birthday present – the best bike I’ve ever owned. Someone once said materialism isn’t about overvaluing possessions; it’s about undervaluing them (so that you don’t appreciate what you have, but only want what you don’t have). I’m so grateful for what I have.
59. The Future: Since I believe that God is with us, I believe that we will never be abandoned, and I face the future with hope and joy.
60. This moment. Now. This breath. This heartbeat. Thanks be to God.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this list as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.