Tamara Jorell

Writing life and the neighborhood

Writing life and the neighborhood

 

Grateful

By 9:30 on that weekday morning, rush hour had ended, and the traffic flowed along on I-94E. I signaled and switched lanes to take the I-394W exit. But cars had come to a stop at the top of the ramp, and so I sat in my Honda at the end of a long string of vehicles. Was there road construction up ahead? Hopefully not an accident. I fiddled with the radio and then glanced in the rearview mirror. A car was blasting up behind me—full speed—its driver clearly not aware of the stopped traffic. A second passed. The car wasn’t slowing. In another second, it would rear-end me. I darted a look to each side. Nowhere for me to go—and no time—to avoid a crash. I gripped the steering wheel, bracing for impact.

Just then, brakes squealed. The driver veered his car off the road and careened onto the right shoulder, narrowly missing my vehicle. My heart hammered. Shaking and weak, I poured out thanks to the One who had protected me. As my breathing came out ragged, gratefulness came easy.

 

The next day, I drove through north Minneapolis—along Plymouth Avenue—where protesters had set up camp after the previous week’s officer-involved shooting. In the middle of the street in front of the 4th Precinct, people clustered around campfires. They had formed road blocks out of their possessions and clothes, old boxes and crates, anger and pain.

A few days later, we learned white supremacists in masks had crashed their gathering, shooting and wounding five of the protesters before speeding away. The details of the story put a stranglehold on the local news. While I surveyed the mess on the screen and in real time, my head swirled with emotions. But nothing like gratitude crossed my mind.

 

Later that week, Husband stopped by the doctor’s office to ask about the results of his bone scan.

“We still haven’t heard back from the oncologist,” the receptionist said. “Actually, we think he might be out of the country.”

Husband returned home to relay the news—or lack thereof. Out of the country? Frustration bubbled up inside me. We had already waited more than a week, and now we would wait longer. In the moment, gratefulness eluded me.

Give thanks in all circumstances.

Stewing, I escaped to my quiet place, determined to practice gratitude, no matter what. At first, the words tasted like wood, but I considered the circumstances of my week anyway. And soon peace tiptoed in to join me.

I hadn’t needed to call a tow truck and auto repair business, but had instead experienced a split-second deliverance on the freeway; I knew He spared me. And I was thankful.

I hadn’t witnessed resolution for the neighborhood’s problems, but owned a home in the broken part of town; I would have a front row seat to its healing when it came. And I was appreciative.

I hadn’t learned the results of Husband’s medical test, but loved ones had sent texts and Facebook messages to bolster me; they would care in the future too. And I was grateful.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

*Miss an installment of the blog? Or want to catch the story from the beginning? Visit http://www.tamarajorell.com/blog-entries-by-date

*Names in this blog have been changed to protect my family, neighbors, and friends in the neighborhood, and in a nod of appreciation to the beloved Swedish author Maj Lindman, I’ve renamed my three blondies Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka.

© 2014 Tamara Jorell. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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