This fall my husband and I have been on an extended camping vacation. We’re traveling across the United States, taking a southern route from New Mexico to North Carolina with plans to spend the winter in south Georgia and Florida.
Since both of us are fairly rigid about preparations and knowing we have reservations ahead of time, we spent a great amount of time booking all of our camping stops in advance. It had all worked out quite nicely until a few days ago.
At the place we’re currently staying we were asked by campground personnel to move after a couple of nights from one site to another due to prior bookings they had overlooked when we made our reservations. Comfortable with this first location, pleased with a lakeside view and unprepared to make a move, neither of us was happy with these unexpected changes.
However, as things could not be changed and since we didn’t really have anywhere else to go, we agreed to move.
Both of us, still bemoaning the loss of our lovely waterside place, packed up and headed to our new site, and while we set up our campsite, unpacked and moved in, we both did our share of complaining.
The first night fell and as we sat next to our campfire talking about our newly assigned location we both realized that this site is actually better than the first.
There’s a clearer view of the sky, and because of its more remote location, it’s peaceful and very quiet.
We realized what we expected was not at all what we have discovered. What we thought we were losing turns out to be much less than what we have gained.
It seems to me there’s some lesson to be learned here, especially in this month when we honor the act of thanksgiving. And perhaps it is this: When we resolve to believe that what comes next can never be better than what we have now, choosing thereby to stay where we are, comfortable and with an acceptable view, we may in fact miss out on something even better, a different outlook, maybe even a new perspective.
Gratitude is, after all, not just the experience of being thankful for the good things that come our way; it’s not just feeling blessed when what we want materializes for us or when we plan for things and then get them.
Gratitude is also being able to understand and count the blessings that come from events we had not planned or even desired. It is an attitude that we shall find something lovely waiting around the corner we never expected to turn.
The truly thankful person doesn’t just celebrate when things work out exactly as planned, but is rather the person who can see the benefits of a different view when things go in a completely unforeseen direction. Whether it’s the lake or a sky full of stars, there is always something lovely to see.
Lynne Hinton is a minister and author: www.lynnehinton.com