|A Dipper Full of Blessings
I was awakened by a nightmare shortly before 4 o’clock this morning.
With heart racing and sweat gluing me to my sheets, I tried for nearly an hour to dissipate the dark cloud of fear that enveloped my mind and spirit.
The nightmare wasn’t real, I told myself. Get over it. Think about daisies and bunnies and summer mountain meadows. Okay, no problem. For about two minutes. And then back into the pit of anxiety I’d slide. I just couldn’t shake it.
When I couldn’t reason myself out of dismality (if that’s not a real word, it should be), I finally slugged out of bed, hooked the leash to the poor dog who was listing to the starboard in a sleepy stupor, and went for a walk. You know – change of scenery, change of mood.
I actually like walking at 5 a.m. My neighborhood is deafeningly quiet. Even the birds aren’t up yet. The only humanity I encounter is the newspaper lady zipping by on her route. Some might think the stillness eery but I find it sublimely serene. The kind of deep serenity you can’t find the rest of the day.
So there I was walking along dragging the catatonic dog through all this soundless, motionless, nothingness, still encased in my portable tomb of post-nightmare gloom, when I happened to look up. There, in the inky blackness of the sky, was the Big Dipper, standing out from its peers like the Pentatonix in the 2013 Sing-Off. No comparison. A class by itself. A star is born (pun intended).
Now, I’ve seen plenty of Big Dippers in my day, but this one was different. It was not only brighter than usual, it was tilted so that the dipper appeared to be pouring out its contents. And guess what was located just below the flow.
None other than my humble home.
Seriously. From my angle, you could draw a straight line directly down to my roof.
Hmm. I think Papa God is trying to tell me something. My wisdom is a little slow kicking in before daybreak.
The words of a precious old hymn we used to sing in church when I was a child wormed its way into my consciousness.
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one.
Count your blessings, see what God hath done.
(“Count Your Blessings” by Johnson Oatman, Jr and Edwin O. Excell)
Then I knew. Those were blessings Papa God was pouring out on my home. Sure enough. Blessings, lots of them. Spouse and I are well. We have jobs. We have enough food to eat. We have a beautiful grandbuddy we get to see every day. We have a dog (for whom I was frantically digging a plastic baggie out of my pocket for the surprise package he was now leaving on the neighbor’s lawn).
And just like that, the gloom lifted. I really did feel blessed. Too blessed to be stressed (hey, someone should make that a book title!).
Now I’ll be singing that song worm all day, but it’s a wonderfully blessed worm that’s really a caterpillar already beginning to morph into a butterfly of joy.
“He awakens me morning by morning. He awakens my ear to hear as a disciple” (Isaiah 50:4-5, NASB).