In Chapter 2 (“A Word to Live . . . and Die By”) of One Thousand Gifts, author Ann Voskamp admits that for many years of mornings she woke up wanting to die. Memories of her sister’s accidental death, her “no” to God, and her mother’s stay in a psychiatric hospital skewed Ann’s world view. That all dramatically changed when a doctor told Ann that she had cancer and that she should “wrap up the last of her living”. Ironically, it was when Ann was confronted with death that she decided that she wanted to live- fully live.
But how can one be fully alive? Ann remembers sitting at her hairdresser’s and observing a woman reading the book 1000 Places to See Before You Die. Is joy, Ann wondered, dependent on temporal and external things? Or is it possible to find joy right where you are?
The key word Ann focused on in her transformation was the Greek word eucharisteo (thanksgiving). She notes that the root word of eucharisteo is charis, meaning “grace”. In turn, the derivative of charis is chara, meaning “joy”. Grace, thanksgiving, joy- Ann calls them “a triplet of stars, a constellation in the black”. Eucharisteo is the unbelievably possible way to the fullest life “in the messy, piercing ache of now”.