Like a river, my gratitude flows

It was the first of September when I finally took the Singapore River cruise, after living in the city for well over three years. That spontaneous evening exploration, post-service, with Nelli and Berto, happened on the first decreed day of thanksgiving season at Church.

What a shift of perspective, seeing the riverside view and the office vicinity at week’s end, the Fullerton, Clifford Pier and Marina Bay lights, and the skyscrapers standing in solemn silence, out on the water.
And perhaps by no coincidence, at the end of the 21 days of thanksgiving, I found myself back at the river—this time, strolling the after-hours of the F1 weekend with Juni, Jen and Benjie. By then, so much had happened not just in those three weeks, but in the year that had passed thus far.

So much, in great part, by way of the Lord’s blessings. That if I were to write everything here in full detail, this would no longer be an easy read, and my words would probably not be enough. Still, there is none more fitting (or more cliché!) a time than year-end to finally pen this down.

There were so many moments, events, changes, opportunities and people in 2013, that all deserved their own pieces, and I’d like to think one can neither be too grateful, nor should there be an expiration date from receipt to thanksgiving. And in taking this time to give thanks, I realize all the more how immeasurably blessed I am.

By the time Christmas—my favorite season of giving—rolled in, I could not even dare to think of what I would receive, having already been so generously gifted throughout the year.

The gift of knowing God more—more intimately as His child, and in ways I would not have imagined I could. The gift of seeing His Word come to life, and experiencing the Hope and Joy that comes with that Truth in every day.

The gift of prayer, for a line of communication and communion, for being free to come before Him, be in His presence and speak to Him in all comfort and confidence. And that privilege to intercede for others and share both their sorrows and triumphs.

The gift of starting anew. For the life changes in career, relationships, and that journey inward, all with an extraordinary period of rest, as the slate was wiped clean.

The gift of marking 30 years, and in such momentous fashion. That peace in turning a new decade, having a little more confidence in who I am, where I am, in things I’d like to pursue, and yet still have so much open to possibility and the unknown.

The gift of a new way to live and make a living. For new challenges in the workplace and being trusted enough to do things I had not done before. But even more so the life I’ve built outside of my job—pursuits in faith, health, music and travel among many others—and the home I’ve finally come to know in Singapore.

And most of all, 2013 was about the gift of strengthened relationships. I am blessed by the people around me, the tangible, human manifestations of God’s love and provision in my life. For the constancy of family, for fierce friendship and soulmates, for the bond in my life group, for a welcoming faith community, for inspiring colleagues, and for all personal encounters that enriched my life in the past year.

These people have taught me about love and have shown me how it is possible to be loved exactly for who I am, and not for an ideal I strive to be. Any of my small gestures, endless love letters, paeans and odes to them are but a pittance in comparison to the richness they fill my days with.

I’ve lived most of my life thinking of myself and relying on myself, but at a time when I had ‘nothing’ to my name, I have come to truly receive His saving grace. In ceding that control to Him, and letting others into my life, I know that nothing I do on my own can prosper. And even in these times of abundance, my prayer is to hold on to that spirit of total dependence and trust in His plans.

In this downpour of blessings and outpouring of gratefulness, it is now time to get my feet wet, nay, immerse myself completely as this river bends into the beginning of another year. As Michael has rightly sensed my excitement for 2014, and the happiest gingerbread (wo)man has boldly declared, I am ready to dive in. But that is another story.

I now look back at that cruise in September, remembering the feeling of experiencing something that had always been there, but finally seen with a different point-of-view. In the same manner that I had not fully appreciated the environs before, I have only truly realized and joyfully received His blessings when I opened myself up to Him.

For what is gratitude but opening our eyes afresh, and opening our hearts in all humility, taking it all in and pouring our love out?

I thank You, Lord for Your unmatched and all-encompassing love, for this precious life, and for each new day that never ceases to run out of reasons for my gratitude to flow.

*The image above is a result of some amateur afternoon dabbling with vintage Marabu Deckfarbkasten paints, inspired by Paola’s watercolor prowess.

**Hello Pats woodycakes, this is also for you, for never giving up on this sporadic blogger, and resisting that urge to de-friend me on LJ 😉

***Pardon me if some words were abused in writing this piece, there are only so many synonyms for gratitude and blessing. Be assured that I meant every line, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.