Ask me not where I live
or what I like to eat…
Ask me what I am living for
and what I think is keeping me
from living fully for that.
I’ve been working at the used book store on Mondays for the past few weeks, filling in for the couple who usually works there because the husband was running for office in the local election. Every Monday, after opening the store, I walk around to the regional book section to see if the book Cold Mountain is still there. I re-read a little each week, wondering if I’d have the chance to finish the following week before someone buys it. The change in Ada throughout the book is what I love…because I see so much of myself in her journey. Ruby teaches Ada how to survive in the mountains, and passes along her knowledge of how all things fall under the rule of the heavens. While Ada knows her father would have passed off many of nature’s signs as superstition and folklore, she soon begins to realize that the signs are a way of being alert. And each little sign of nature was a gesture toward understanding.
I am living a life now where I keep account of the doings of particular birds. – Ada Monroe, Cold Mountain
I too watch the birds. I feel the understanding that if I am looking, I find myself overflowing thankfulness, thankful for the little things set out in front of me each day that are waiting to be discovered.
Everything that arrests you, everything that delights you, has to be noted. – Maira Kalman
For me, gratitude is this practice of looking, being alert, becoming absorbed in the natural world around me, contemplating all of the miracles in the everyday:
For example, the miracle of these perfect little Hemlock pinecones. Boo and I collected a few mason jars full this week from a Hemlock tree on Hospital Hill. The cones we pulled off the tree still had the little winged seeds inside, which I discovered when I accidentally dropped an entire mason jar of them onto the floor board of my truck. Each seed a possibility.
“A tree that reaches past your embrace grows from one small seed.” -Lao Tzu
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
― Melody Beattie
In the book On Looking, Alexandra Horowitz says “our culture fosters inattention; we are all creatures of our culture. We don’t pay attention to the journey.” How much have I missed? How often have I neglected to take a few moments to stare at the sunrise each morning. A sunrise earlier this week looks like it was painted in flames:
This morning we woke up to a soft blanket of snow. I knew before I even put on my glasses, because snow brings quiet. God has shushed the earth for a short time. Oh, to soak that up! What a miracle in itself:
Today is a day to be thankful, but I don’t need this one day to create this awareness of gratitude. It is an every day practice. Choosing gratitude is choosing life.
Yes, I am thankful for my family, friends, health and home today. But my gratitude goes much deeper than that. I am thankful for all things. Thursdays. Mondays. The ups and the downs. The entire journey and where it has taken me, and the not-yet-knowing where I will go from here. And that we are all connected. As Anatole France said: The truth is that life is delicious, horrible, charming, sweet, bitter, and that is everything.
Happy Thanksgiving. 34 days left still to give thanks in 2014.
Giver of life, creator of all that is lovely.
Teach me to sing the words to your song;
I want to feel the music of living
And not fear the sad songs
But from them make new songs
Composed of both laughter and tears.
Teach me to dance to the sounds of your world and your people,
I want to move in rhythm with your plan,
Help me to try to follow your leading
To risk even falling
To rise and keep trying
Because you are leading the dance.