While our kids are gearing up for the fun of Halloween, I have found myself reflecting more this year on the day that follows— All Saints’ Day. In early Christian tradition, individual saint’s days began as a way to mark the anniversary of a martyr’s death — his or her “birthday” as a saint. By the middle of the church’s first millennium, there were so many martyrs that it was hard to give them all their due. All Saints’ Day was established as an opportunity to honor all the saints, known and unknown. All Saints’ Day has been celebrated on November 1st since the year 835. In the protestant traditions, as the veneration of saints in the traditional sense has lost focus, the idea of who is a saint has broadened. In the protestant understanding, saints are the faithful who have preceded us along with those still living. So on All Saints’ Day we celebrate the men and women who have influenced our faith lives and those we believe lived (or live) in a way that honored God.
Fall is upon us! In Arizona we had two seasons: hotter than hot and perfect, with very little transition in between. Living here in Miles City for the last three years has given me a greater appreciation for the transition time and the notable signs of a new season upon us. I realized the other day that the change of season forces my senses to wake up, to reboot even.
Imagine if the seasons never changed, if it was always the same, even if the same was perfect. Every day begins to blend together. You start to take for granted the natural world, neglecting to notice the nuances and details. I know there are all sorts of biological reasons for the change of seasons, but even if that wasn’t the case, I have found I am grateful for the seasons because of how it forces me to be conscious and intentional. I actually have to look outside to see what I should wear for the day. I need to prepare my home and my property for what the next season holds. I also just get to enjoy the change—noticing how the wind sounds different as it blows through dry leaves, how the crispness of the morning air shocks my lungs a bit but feels so refreshing, and how much color we are surround by even in this dry portion of Montana.
“Give thanks to God no matter what circumstances your find yourself in.” -1 Thessalonians 5:18
I treasure sleep. It was only after becoming a mother that I realized how important sleep is to my ability to function. Looking back, I believe it has always been true- there have always been correlations in my life when a lack of sleep had visible negative effects on my ability to focus, my level of happiness, and my energy. But in college after pulling an all nighter to study for a test or socialize with friends I could come home and sleep for hours. That has not been my reality as a parent.
As a mom with an infant I find that my email gets flooded with all sorts of studies about the effects of sleep deprivation and how you can combat those effects through dietary supplements, cat naps, or counseling. I find myself (in my sleep deprived stupor) responding to my computer that the only real fix is SLEEP! Luckily, our youngest has joined the ranks of those sleeping through the night and I am finding my sleep deprivation is not the regular reality it was just a couples months ago.
I have begun to notice though that there is another equally devastating and debilitating “deprivation” lurking… I will call it “gratitude-deprivation”. Just like there is a recommended amount of sleep suggested to help an individual function at full capacity, I would argue that there is a need to pause and be thankful regularly in order for an individual to not be overcome by the outside world. When we become gratitude-deprived we begin to focus only on the negative, we don’t recognize the value in the person standing beside us, we see the world as constant disappointment.