There are days when living in gratitude seems a suggestion completely lacking in compassion. If you’re grieving an unthinkable loss, for example, now is not the time for someone to advise you to be grateful, or to tell you some good will come out of it, or that everything happens for a reason even if you can’t comprehend what it could be. Times of heartbreak like that call for the people around you to show up and make you a meal, or help you wash your hair, or sit and cry with you. Words are useless.
Short of that, or of the stress that comes from not knowing where your next meal is coming from, or where you’re going to sleep tonight, gratitude is the path that opens your heart. Words can invoke feelings, they can be incredibly powerful, but action is the thing. Being awake so you can take in all the beauty around you, so that you don’t miss a thing, IS the thing. After I parked my car in front of the veterinarian’s office yesterday, my kids noticed I’d rolled over an earthworm as they were getting out of the car. Part of it was smooshed, the other larger part was wriggling around trying to squirm away. I pulled out my membership card to the local grocery store, and set free the living part of the earthworm. My kids’ eyes got huge. I admit I was tempted to tell them I have super powers, but I didn’t. The thing is, the tiniest stuff can be full of joy and wonder if you don’t miss it. If you aren’t racing or crazybusy or swamped or inundated or scheduled from the moment you open your eyes until the moment you close them at night. If you aren’t attached to your handheld device as if all the beauty in the world exists there.
Being grateful requires your presence, your full-body awareness that life doesn’t have a rollover plan for wasted moments. How can you be awed by the million different shades of green every time the sun hits a tree swaying in the breeze if you’re too busy to notice? How will your heart swell with love if you don’t see your kid looking up at you because you’re in a rush? I think there are a lot of people who get caught up in the words of the thing, but miss the thing itself. The moments and the smiles from strangers, the chances to hold a door open, or make someone’s day just by caring. Just by making eye contact. Gratitude is not for the half-there, half-asleep. There’s a lot of pain in this world, I won’t lie to you, but there is also the kind of beauty that can crack your heart wide open and leave you breathless. It would be such a shame to miss that, and all the smooshed earthworms, too. Sending you love, Ally