I’m currently taking the Immanuel Lifestyle class offered by Alive and Well in Glen Ellyn each Saturday–rather long drive from Kenosha. This approach was first cultivated first as prayer ministry, but Margaret Webb recognized the importance of fostering our own connection with God before ministering to others, hence the “level one” lifestyle class. Here’s my short take on Immanuel: Making use of new discoveries in brain science, the Immanuel approach recognizes that in order to really feel connected to God, we must feel securely attached to him, so we cultivate experiences where we felt and can still feel connected/securely attached to God. When we feel more connected to God, we can live out of that secure place and be more ourselves with him and other people.
As part of my work for the class I’ve decided to try and practice the discipline of gratitude more expressly. Gratitude fits in with my desire to see more of God in the little moments of life and expressing gratitude to God builds connection with him–fitting in nicely with the Immanuel approach.
So this morning, after spending time in quiet and reading through a few more sections of Outsmarting Yourself, I took Roxie to the park for her usual walk. If you read my last post, you’ll know this is often difficult and requires a lot of my attention to be focused on her. As I was alternating between walking her and dragging her, I wondered, “Can I find one thing to be grateful for while we are walking this morning?”
Down near the park stream, my eyes kept wandering back to an apple tree. It’s not very spectacular most of the time, but right now, it’s in its element. It is fully in bloom with small, delicate pink-white flowers in big clusters. The tree is pretty short, with four trunks and twisty branches. My eyes kept being drawn to its lavish display regardless of where we were in the park. As we crossed the bridge–where I had an excellent and uninterrupted view–I began to thank God for that tree. I expressed to him my appreciation of it–the density of its blooms, its symmetry, the gnarlyness of it. As I stayed with that sense of gratitude, it was as if God and I were sharing a moment together, were sharing appreciation of that tree. I felt completely relaxed and at peace, despite the checklist of things waiting for me at home. Even as I write this two hours later, I still feel a sense of fullness and gratitude as I think about the beauty of that tree.
Lord, thank you for the things you give me to remind me of your presence. Let me remember them and in so doing remember the fullness of your presence within me. May I never cease to give you thanks. Amen.