I had a dream last night. It began as a movie preview for an apocalypse: the earth split and pulled back, and then, in equal and opposite reaction, came rushing back, oceans rushing over everything in tidal waves the likes of which Hollywood hasn’t yet imagined, the face of the earth rearranging to such an extent that our whole concept of geography shifted.Indianabecame west ofColorado,Californiacomprising the East Coast, that kind of thing.
“EAST…MEETS…WEST,” said the preview voice.
Being a dream, of course, it didn’t stop there. I was in the middle of it, observing in a detached, Godlike sort of way. First I just watched the waters rearrange the earth; then I began thinking about what it must be like to be the people caught in it, and immediately I began to see it. They were lucky, those who died in that apocalypse. Instantaneous, all over without time to experience pain or fear.
I half woke, long enough to remind myself there was no reason to keep thinking about it, and then slipped back into slumber, where I was trying to round up my family. We stopped by Julianna’s preschool and I went room to room, scavenging without conscience. What was I scavenging? Not what you’d think. Not food and clothing. No, I was after Kleenex and ibuprofen. Tylenol I was really keen on, because of course, being pregnant, I can’t take ibuprofen. (Never did find that.) I went back to the car and we drove, and drove, and drove. My cell phone in my pocket, it transpired, was unlocked and I was inadvertently sending nonsense, wasting precious prepaid minutes.
I never did reach the fabled meeting point where I would reunite with my family. Fortunately, my alarm went off.
It was just a dream—nothing truly earth-shattering (I’ll never look at that term the same way again!). But I woke up thinking about the things I take for granted. There are the obvious things, like family and a home and sleeping in security, knowing the most precious parts of you lie safe in their beds. But there are so many things in my life that don’t even register on the gratitude scale: acetaminophen, facial tissue—tools we use and throw away without thinking. When a kid gets a runny nose in the third world, what do they do? The dichotomy between what we think is so important and what we find actually matters keeps smacking me in the face.
Today I head to our diocesan Teachers’ Institute, where I’m slotted to wax eloquent on Advent and liturgy for school kids, and to play piano forMass. Today I set myself this task: to be cognizant of the small luxuries that have become necessities without my ever noticing…and to be grateful for them. While I’m offline, won’t you look around and see what insignificant, extraneous things in your life you’ve ceased to notice enough to be grateful for?