Sometime during the growing up years, in the South, where I was raised and am raising mine ,we learned something about the transactions of words. And the early lessons get buried the deepest if the soil is rich and the heart is receptive and the love is fertile. We feel shy and unworthy in our youth when words of encouragement or of the complimentary variety are showered on our heads. But we were told. Just say thank you. And isn’t even that difficult sometimes. It means we hear, we receive, we acknowledge that we caught the bouquet of gracious words. We now hold them, bear them, own. them. Grasping them even in our fragile souls. Thank you is the acknowledgement we at least hear and receive.
But we know it is much deeper and more complicated than that. It is a holy and sacred transaction.
And then there is the saying them ourselves. Two words. Unfurled from our tongues, released from our lips. Remembering to. Meaning to. Wanting to. Sending them out to others. Often. Authentically.
Yesterday we met some lively young women. And it was our privilege to pile them on our boat. We headed out to the secluded beaches of this Lowcountry coastline and basked in the glory that was the beauty of one summer day. The Patient one was at the helm and like all good captains he cared well for his charges. They delighted in every small detail of the day. Every shell they found, every glance at the horizon, nothing was lost on their porous souls. The day poured into them and they reflected back the joy in their countenance. Smiles of delight from those a generation below us are contagious. And we remember to sing a song of wonder too. At the end of the day, they turned, one in particular, and said thank you to their captain. For the day, for the adventure, for the journey. And that gray haired man,he lit up. And he beamed a boyish grin. One that gratitude and gratefulness can birth.
One of my favorite poets is John Blase of “The Beautiful Due” blog. A recent poem of his written forFather’s Dayspeaks to saying Thank You. In his straight forward and profound style of poetry, I found his words tucked brilliantly into the gentle lines of this poem. He amplifies the power of saying this to men. No doubt it is important to shower genuine, authentic gratitude on those who pour into our lives. But maybe I need to re-think the frequency of these words leaving my lips to my husband, among others.
This morning I turned to him and said quite simply, thank you for all you do to take care of us. It changed me. It changed him. Gratitude always changes us. The air in the room softened. The mood lightened. That Monday mood where everything wants to feel oppressive and needy and urgent, if we allow it. It felt kinder and gentler.
Thank you says we are blessed. Thank you says I love you. Thank you says your efforts are not in vein. They are appreciated. And they are beautiful.
We prayed on this Monday. And we thanked God.
And I am reminded how much I take for granted. How many times I have missed the lessons of my childhood. You could always just say thank you.
We sat on the porch last night. Our souls rocking to the lapping of the Intercoastal Waterway, under the super moon, hair and skin kissed by salted sea. We are molded by the gifts. And the discussion turns to how much manners matter to people. Small cultural nuances, like respect and gratitude, standing at the proper time for young men, saying thank you, helping others. We have heard these lessons all our lives. And the South won’t let up, in some small pockets. In our homes we are bearing down on good manners. Because respect and gratitude and a servant’s heart fall into the laps of appreciative adults. And sow good things.
God, please remind me to hear these lessons too. The ones we are trying to teach. Of saying with my lips what I feel in my heart. Of pouring out to others, helping and serving. Of getting outside of myself and seeing and hearing a need in another. Of responding in love. Of living a life which reflects how grateful I am to be YOURS. To know you
And because I want you to know, Lord hear my thank you this summer Monday in the middle of June. Remind me to speak a vertical thank you always and to extend a horizontal thank you often. In love, in sincerity. Wanting nothing in return. A transaction of a pure heart. A grateful heart. A heart that knows you.
I want to always say thank you. Not out of rote duty or empty cultural mores, not flowing from cliched patterns of speech or lessons of my youth.
I want to grow a thank you spirit in my home and in my very soul.
And then watch the changes that will occur in me and in the lives around me. Vertical, horizontal words of grateful praise.
Make my life a hymn of praise, in all the moments that are gratefully mine.