November 25, 2013
It took me about a year to read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, and as I read it I started a gratitude list. The premise of this book is one of searching for little acts of grace that God gives us that we often overlook. Voskamp found that she drew nearer to God as she made it a point to write these things down, to acknowledge them and thank him for giving them.
I started clumsily at first, knowing that I couldn’t just make a list of things I loved, but rather I had to capture moments. It started to grow into habit over time until I bought a little brown book in which I write out those things that spark a sense of gratitude, little whisperings of the Savior’s provision.
106. The raspy shouting of a child trying to whisper in church.
114. Friends returning from long trips.
139. The crowd that lingers after a polo match, wandering in the light of dusk.
166. Walking the Brooklyn Bridge.
194. Pressing record for a living.
246. Rumors of Advent.
Thanksgiving used to be the kind of holiday that I almost overlooked. It didn’t have the pizzazz of Christmas and it was almost impossible to go all the way home for the holiday, so it fell to the back of my mind until mid-November.
This year’s Thanksgiving feels new. After a year of writing down the things that make my world powerfully and pointedly and almost unbearably beautiful, Thanksgiving is a holiday that I am greatly looking forward to.
This year, Thanksgiving falls on the first night of Hanukkah. As a Messianic Jew, I am Christian by faith, but Jewish by tradition and lineage. Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication, is characterized by a focus on the miracles of life, the faithfulness of God and the dedication with which we must honor the LORD in our own lives. Jesus celebrated Hanukkah in John 10 (which also was when Jesus announced that he was One with the Father).
The Jewish calendar is not the same as the Roman one, and so sometimes Hanukkah is early December and sometimes it’s later. This year, since Thanksgiving is so late and Hanukkah is so early, they coincide, and I could not be more pleased.
Today I was talking to a dear friend about the ways that God moves in our lives through the smallest details to bring us to a better understanding of who he is. Just nine months ago, she and I were strangers and now here we were overwhelmed by his faithfulness as good friends. Gratitude and Miracle.
We are fallen and yet he loves us. Gratitude and Miracle.
I get to be a student of theology for this season. Gratitude and Miracle.
These holidays might have more in common than I realized.
Each year, we recite prayers as we light candles on Hanukkah. The flame glimmers in the window, shining out to the community around us, as if to proclaim the light of God himself. We say in Hebrew, “Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season.”
As the sun sets, and Hanukkah arrives Thanksgiving night, I will pull out that little brown book and a pen, writing by the light of a menorah, soul full of family and friends, and I will pour ink onto the page and it will simply read, “Gratitude and Miracle.”
Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah. May he continue to grant us life, sustain us and enable us to reach new seasons. And may the gratitude for the miracles he gifts us be ever on our lips.
Melissa Zaldivar is an MATH student from California. She loves golf, theology, Jewish holidays, people falling in love, Jonathan Edwards, chocolate chip cookies, her adorable niece and telling stories. When she's not filming and photographing weddings, you can find her reading news articles, watching Parks and Recreation or playing Super Smash Bros.
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