February 18


Today's Quotation:

We can be thankful to a friend for a few acres or a little money; and yet for the freedom and command of the whole earth, and for the great benefits of our being, our life, health, and reason, we look upon ourselves as under no obligation.

Marcus Annaeus Seneca

Today's Meditation:

When I look up at the sky and see the clouds that bring us rain, what are my thoughts?  Do I think of the annoyance of the rain and the cold, or do I think of the importance of the moisture in this world?  When I walk past some trees or bushes, do I think about the oxygen that they put into the air so that we can breathe and survive?  When I go for a drive and see beautiful landscapes, do I feel any sort of obligation for the beauty, or do I just look at it and enjoy it?  Or just drive by it and take it for granted?

I don't think Seneca was talking about an obligation to go out and save the earth, even though that would be a noble thing to attempt.  No, his first sentence mentions being thankful, and his next then talks about obligation.  He takes the idea of gratitude even further than most people do--it's no longer an option that would enrich our lives, but an obligation that will reinforce our relationship with all that we have on this planet.

If my gratitude is an obligation, then I must be thankful for everything within my realm of being.  If I'm not thankful, then I'm doing this world a disservice, and this world certainly doesn't deserve for me to do it a disservice after all that it's done for me.

I can think.  I can see.  I can feel.  These are truly miraculous gifts, and I must be thankful for them if I'm to live my life fully.  I can get into my car and go anywhere that I need to go, even driving to the airport to catch a plane to go to the other side of the world.  Just knowing that this is possible is something to be thankful for.

If Marcus were standing right here and he were to see me not be thankful for some wonderful gift, I'm sure he would tell me that I'm not living up to my obligations, and that I'm less of a person for neglecting my duty.

Questions to ponder:

1.  Is it being to hard on ourselves to expect us to be grateful for everything?

2.  When was the last time you thanked the planet for something it gave you?

3.  Are thanks to inanimate or abstract objects (the world, for example) wasted?

For further thought:

Can you see the holiness in those things you take for granted--a paved road or a washing machine?  If you concentrate on finding what is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.

Rabbi Harold Kushner

more thoughts and ideas on gratitude



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