On January 29, 2006, Bob Woodruff should have died. As the newly appointed co-anchor for ABC world news tonight, Bill was left in critical condition -and not expected to survive- when a roadside bomb exploded in Iraq as he was reporting back to America.
On Friday June 13, 2014, I sat in Westminster Hall to celebrate the commencement ceremony of my host brother graduating high school, listening to Lee Woodruff tell the story of their family and her husband’s miraculous recovery. As the chosen commencement speaker, her words of injury, recovery, strength, and family revolved around one main theme: Gratitude.
I listened to her speak of the rock that rolled across her husband’s neck and landed on his carotid artery. I heard her speak of how the army doctors that saved her husband’s life were actually ordered to take safety away from the bombsite, but only stayed by Bob’s side. I paid attention as she spoke of the way Bob’s skull was removed to allow his brain to swell, and the way she stayed by his side as he lay in a coma for a month.
Bob wasn’t supposed to live, but he and his family survived with the gratitude that can only be explained with a thank you that is too big to find words for. Lee talked about the major events that filled her life with gratitude, but she also focused on the little, small events that stich our days together in blessings of happiness. “When I was grateful for all the little things in my life, I became a better wife, mother, friend, and daughter.”
As she made her closing remarks and the ceremony continued on, I felt I’d come full circle this year in lessons of gratitude. It feels like just yesterday (while simultaneously years ago) that I was sitting in my new room in London in September, reading a book on gratitude while buckets collected dripping water from my ceiling. It was a time of extreme vulnerability, but it was also a time of deep reflection. I looked for the daily blessings. I kept a list of the small stuff I was grateful for. I was deeply challenged by the daily living and consumed by the Holy Spirit.
It has been a long time since I’ve written anything on this blog. A long time since I’ve sat down at my computer and allowed time to form words of reflection on my daily life here. It could be because I’ve found my new normal; I finally am understanding how to live in the culture of London and don’t need to think or plan as intently as I did in the beginning. It could be because I only have one month left (yes, that’s right – one month!!!) and I am super busy trying to experience as much as possible. Really, I think when everything is “going right” it’s too easy to forget to reflect on those small miracles that form our lives. I stop noticing the way God is in the boiling water dancing on the stovetop, or the way a small child’s fingers grip a pencil as they write
But life is good and so is God. And I am grateful that I was sitting in Westminster Hall on the 13th of June, celebrating my host brother’s graduation and listening to Lee Woodruff’s words on noticing the everyday blessings. I may only have 5 weeks left in London, but that’s five more weeks to notice how God is alive. If it’s one thing I’ve learned this year – it’s to notice the small and give thanks for it all.