Just when we think we have things stacked neatly in place....
the unexpected happens. Our lives become as fragile shells holding onto the familiar in an uncharted landscape.
A routine phone call—how many do we answer in a day?—morphs suddenly into the bearer of grim news when it delivers an unwelcome message.
Life turns on a dime. Everything looks different now.
I am reflecting upon a young friend’s news of surgery to remove a brain tumor. Just the spoken words initiate spirals of fear and what ifs?
We, who choose to live in the reality of now and not in fear of what might be, remind ourselves to look for the something good in this situation. So, I’m looking…but it's hard…and I begin to make mental lists to help direct my thoughts when they threaten to grow roots downward into negativity. It is a practice we can learn by doing deliberately, time after time, until it becomes second nature to link gratitude to our lives.
This is no mere application of rose-tinted shades, not a merry sunshine, superficial approach to life. That would be easy. I want to learn what it means to find hidden treasure -- blessings disguised as something else that we only see when we look closely. When we look with the heart.
“Take every thought captive…..”
What in the world can I find to be grateful for when a twenty-something mother faces losing her sight? Think….think…, I tell myself.
This friend has a new awareness that we do not know what tomorrow holds. The truth is, we never did. We only planned it out as though we knew. Now, she and her young husband will likely see that each day becomes sweeter, each sight and fragrance becomes more intensely beautiful, each hug more acutely sensed. They will savor the full measure of their days rather than go through the motions on the way to something else.
Such a way of viewing our circumstances may not change our situation, but it will surely change us.
Practicing gratitude as a way of life gives us a lens through which we view all things that come to us. We find that we see beauty in the ordinary, joy in the routine. Even in sadness and despair, we train ourselves to find something, some nugget in the day, for which to be grateful.
A crisis has a way of doing that to us—rearranging our priorities. But must we wait for the dreaded news? Can we not choose to live lives of gratitude in the everyday-ness of our routine living? May we bring ourselves fully to the task of doing our best work and giving thanks in even the most mundane chore.
Turn off auto-pilot.
Be present to each day.
Live with a new awareness of simple joys we fail to notice.
Remember the contagious enthusiasm and joy Jimmy Stewart's George Bailey showered upon others in It's a Wonderful Life? We know how the story ends, yet millions watch it year after year to see the transformation all over again. We want to believe it is possible to change our outlook and behavior. Maybe gratitude is at the center of a changed heart.
Lord, forgive us when we gorge ourselves at the feast of your beauty and handiwork daily without giving thanks.
Forgive us, when we who have sight have no vision.
Restore unto us the joy of our senses so that we might appreciate much more in each fleeting day.