Welcome! This is a place to share how we celebrate & deepen our relationship to Nature. Here you will find stories, images, & ideas about wilderness, human nature, & soulfulness. Drawing from the experiences of everyday living, the topics on this blog include: forays into the natural world, the writing life, community service, meditation, creativity, grief & loss, inspiration, & whatever else emerges from these. I invite you on this exploration of the wild within & outside of us: the inner/outer landscape.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Gratitude as the Bridge

1. warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received; thankful
2. expressing or actuated by gratitude
3. pleasing to the mind or senses; agreeable or welcome; refreshing
Gratitude is the quality or feeling of gratefulness.

But gratitude isn’t limited to these definitions. It is not just a response to something pleasing, welcome, or agreeable. It is not just an expression based on kindness received.

Because gratitude is more grown up than that. It’s simple to appreciate what we like. The reason gratitude is best served through a daily practice is because it wants us to appreciate even that which is not so pleasing, friendly, or welcome as a cool breeze on a hot day. Gratitude asks us to move beyond reflex, to become – instead, reflexive; this takes practice.

Mature gratitude invites us to thank the 65 mile per hour winds when we are fasting in the desert with no shelter. To wake up from anesthetic with a whisper of gratitude on our lips for being “in good hands in a quiet, healing place” (which my dear, wise - grateful - friend actually wrote to me yesterday after surgery). To look at what we do not have but would like, or at what we do not want but which have shown up for us, and to say with ease “thank you.”

Mainstream lexicons insist that gratitude is conditional. That gratitude only exists when things are resolved or easy. That gratitude stands over here and waves across the expanse to all that it favors over there.

It is none of these, at least in its fully-fledged, adult, incorporated form. Gratitude is a choice. It is how we endure all the moments of life, pleasant or uncomfortable…knowing, always, that we choose how we are with the world, even when the world doesn’t give us what we think we want.

Gratitude is a conveyance for the journey. It does not reside solely within. Neither does it rely on the outer world in order to exist.

It is a bridge that spans the gap between inner and outer, between the heart and the material world. The pathway of gratitude is a dynamic, fluid one, carrying us through life in a state of equanimity. It is a way, an attitude, an action…

All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2015 JenniferJWilhoit/TEALarbor stories. AllRightsReserved."