In November of last year, I posted a small blog about gratitude; that was during Thanksgiving week. (I imagine I’ve posted a number of such entries on my blog but I have not gone back through the archives to check.) Before several years ago, the word “gratitude” was not in my vocabulary. I wearied of the “I’m thankful for”s at the Thanksgiving tables at which I sat year after year. But today, I use the word more often than is of comfort to somebody who is supposed to cultivate the use of a variety of words in her writing. But I cannot help myself; “gratitude” is a good and fitting word for a life that is rich in blessings.
I hang out in some communities that stress the practice of making a gratitude list as an antidote to self-pity. But I have to tell you right now: in some moments there is just pure, untainted gratitude – uncontrived, overflowing, pure and which needs no bidding. It is just there. That’s how I felt this morning as I sipped my coffee, as I wrote in my journal about the wonderful things I am encountering on my life’s journey these days. I made a gratitude list on that unlined page, not because I was feeling especially pitiful about my life but precisely because I am feeling extreme thankfulness. Gratitude.
And then it struck me that today is almost exactly halfway between Thanksgiving day last year and the upcoming one this year: six months ago, six months from now. Why forget? Why wait? Why not revel, as the springtime fleshes itself out in the fatness of leaves and the wet-paint look of well-fed birds at the feeder, in all that there is for which to be thankful! Gratefulness.
As I review, count, take an inventory of the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of my life, I realize – suddenly and profoundly – how much goodness there is in my life, in Life, in being alive.
Here’s a small task for you: Reflect on the ways in which your life is blessed.
1. Physical – bodily health and well-being, economics, the tangible/material facts of your life.
2. Emotional – difficult times you have gotten through and learned from, those things that bring you acute pleasure and acute pain (being able to feel pain means that we are alive, that we are human…isn’t this, too, something for which to be grateful?).
3. Mental – your capacity to read this blog, to comprehend your life, to offer yourself to the world around you, to figure out how to deal with complexity.
4. Spiritual – whatever it is that feeds your soul…art, creative pursuit, a soulful practice or spiritual engagement, crafting a beautiful meal, or designing a delectable eye-feast of natural materials.
There are infinite ways to remember how to be grateful. The method matters less than a regular practice of heartfelt, genuine gratitude. That word, there it is again: gratitude!
All blog photographs taken by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted.