Remember Madge the manicurist? She was a character in a commercial (I’m dating myself here) wherein her poor client confessed to having “dish-pan hands.” Well, Madge knew just the cure for that — soap so mild, her client was (gasp!) already soaking in it! It was an ad that incited many questions, not the least of which is what manicurist in her right mind soaks her client’s hand in dish soap? Still, that key line —“you’re soaking in it” — still serves as a trenchant reminder of that which we take for granted.

For instance, gratitude. As Ruth so sagely pointed out, our blessings are all around us. Yet how often do we take the time to say “thank you”? With all the goodness surrounding us in this country of great bounty, we forget how rich we really are. We become “blessing-blind,” convinced that our own virtue and hard work have earned us all that we have. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Nothing we do can earn God’s love. That’s freely given. And our material fortunes can be a combination of many things — some of them unsavory, like greed and manipulation. A group called the Calvinists believed that a person’s material wealth pointed to their favor with God: Lucky on earth, lucky in heaven. But as the parable of Lazarus the beggar reminds us, this isn’t always so. In fact, heaven seems set aside for those who might be best described as “losers”: the poor in spirit, the mourners, those who struggle in vain for peace and justice. “Dish-pan hands”? No problem!

I’ve compiled a brief poetic list of blessings. Take some time to note them when you see them, or add your own to the list. And remember to say a word of thanks. God’s no Madge the manicurist — God made an entire universe to dazzle and amaze us. We’re soaking in it.

The cure for blessing blindness:
one perfect fall leaf,
the smell of a loved one’s sweater,
the blue of the sky,
bread baking, soup bubbling.
Humble human touch.
But bigger, beyond —
the thought that though
our planet hurtles through space
turning, turning,
our feet stick fast to the floor.
Simple gravity. Simple gratitude.

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