January 31


Today's quotation:

It was inevitable, I suppose, that in the garden I should begin, at long last, to ask myself what lay behind all this beauty.  When guests were gone and I had the flowers all to myself, I was so happy that I wondered why at the same time I was haunted by a sense of emptiness.  It was as though I wanted to thank somebody, but had nobody to thank; which is another way of saying that I felt the need for worship.  That is, perhaps, the kindliest way in which a person may come to his or her God.  There is an interminable literature on the origins of the religious impulse, but to me it is simpler than that. It is summed up in the image of a person at sundown, watching the crimson flowering of the sky and saying--to somebody--"Thank you."

Beverly Nichols

Today's Meditation:

This may sound weird, but that's okay:  one of the times that I consistently feel the most gratitude in life is when I get into a hot bubble bath and feel the hot water warm my entire body.  "Thank you" are always the words that leap into my mind at that point, and I'm not sure why.  It's inevitable--I get into the hot water and the words come out.  When I think about it, of course, I can come up with some logical reasons for being grateful to have a nice tub full of hot water to get into, but the words are automatic.  I don't think about them at all until after I say them.

The simple things in life are those for which we can be the most grateful, if we just open our eyes and hearts to appreciate them.  The simple things are the most consistent--they're the things that make us feel good over and over, that make us see the beauty and joy and goodness of the world in small doses.  Personally, I would rather see one beautiful flower every day than to spend one day in a beautiful garden or a florist's shop.  The garden has its place and its own beauty and the memories it provides can be priceless, but the flower every day is a constant reminder of the beauty of life and living.  And if I feel an impulse in my heart to say "thank you" to the flower, it's all the better, for then my gratitude joins with the beauty and creates something even more.

Most religion is based on gratitude, as Nichols points out.  Our feelings of thankfulness for all that we have and the opportunity to live on this beautiful planet are a driving force in our lives, and our lives become something less when we start to take things for granted and not feel thankful any longer.  We lose the ability to see and recognize beauty when we're not thankful for it, and we lose the ability to enjoy music when we don't feel gratitude for the fact that it exists.

Gratitude shouldn't be saved for Thanksgiving Day.  Gratitude should be a way of life just as any given religion should be a way of life rather than a set of beliefs and a weekly walk-though of a ceremony or two.  If you feel religion in your heart, make it a way of life and walk the walk.  If you feel gratitude in your heart, extend it to virtually every aspect of your life and see the shine that your life takes on.

Questions to consider:

What do you have to be grateful for?  (This should be a long list if you're realistic about it.)

What happens when we start to take things for granted?  How does our perspective on these things change the way we live our lives?

Think of something that you've never really associated with gratitude.  Does that something change when you see it through grateful eyes?

For further thought:

Blessings we enjoy daily, and for most of them, because they be so common, we forget to pay our praises.  But let not us, because it is a sacrifice so pleasing to Him who still protects us, and gives us flowers and showers and meat and contentment.

Izaak Walton

more thoughts and ideas on gratitude



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