Key, Pa!

In the dialect of Ari, my three-year old grandson, “Key” is “Thank you.” I have no idea why, but Ari’s gratitude is often expressed with a sweet, “Key, Pa!”

How much quiet joy his “Key, Pa!” gives me has been instructive. His simple gratitude is like pure gold—few things are more precious to me. What Ari says, almost without thought or effort, gives me such delight.  I am a shallow person, so I imagine God values our expressions of gratitude even more. One of the most surprising expressions of our humanity is our power to delight God with our gratitude.

A second lesson from my response to Ari, is that his “Key, Pa!” always makes me want to do more for the kid. I suspect this is also God’s response to our thanksgiving. Ari’s sweet gratitude immediately makes me think of other things that he would enjoy. Sometimes I get creative or just silly. I think our gratitude, even for small things, can release God’s creative love into our lives—and perhaps even God’s playfulness. Yesterday, Ari’s request that I play with him had me riding a stuffed dinosaur as I roared and chased him through the house. There was no point, no dignity, and great fun.

Some days it seems that God underlines Ari’s “Key, Pa!” I am old; disappointments grow on my heart like barnacles. There is no end to the list of could’ves and should’ves. It is easier to count the losses than the gains, the dreams broken instead of realized. It is easy to turn a jaundiced and cynical eye on the dreams of others. So I need Ari to remind me that gratitude is the key to so much–to relationship and joy. Ari teaches my heart to say, “Key, Abba!”

About Mark

I live in Myrtle Point, Oregon with my wife Teckla and am the father of four boys. Currently I teach writing and literature at Southwest Oregon Community College. I am a graduate of Myrtle Point High School, Northwest Nazarene College, and have a Masters in English from Washington State University.
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