“Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”
Recently I was in a group under a tent on a beautiful day. The purpose of the gathering was to celebrate a beloved soul taken too early from a happy, meaning-filled life. The speakers were kind and considerate, and often tearful. I sat in the very large group, one of many who loved this person, and I looked about me at the loving faces, feeling the warm sun, a light breeze, and the depth of our common connection. And I noticed the ki moment. I'm so grateful to be here.
I used to wonder about gratitude and whether, in fact, I am grateful enough, often enough, and really feeling what I'm supposed to feel. Books abound on positive psychology, learned optimism, and how to become Happier. Practicing gratitude is included in every one of those books--at least the ones I've read. And for good reason. The brain is pliable, and by cultivating healthy habits of mind we can change our brain circuitry in ways that increase well-being. Our attention can be educated with practice. We can train our awareness.
I've written about my experiences with gratitude in the story "Thank You Very Much," from my book, Unlikely Teachers. And sometimes I still wonder if I'm getting it right.
It's in the Noticing
What I think I figured out under the tent is that practicing gratitude is so simple that I sometimes miss it, and that I'm mostly grateful most of the time. Anytime I feel appreciation for a friendly smile, a kind word, birds singing, people laughing, deep connection, maybe that is practicing gratitude. The only thing missing is the conscious noticing of it.
I'm constantly being offered gifts in this natural and ordinary way. It's in the noticing that the gratitude happens.
Many emotions were present that particular day--sadness, grief, confusion, love--and that's the way it is with emotions. They usually don't come one at a time. And often one overshadows another. It's good to notice and feel them all.
As Rumi said, “There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”
And Mary Oliver, "believe...it is a serious thing/just to be alive/on this fresh morning/in the broken world."
Wishing you many opportunities to notice gratitude today....
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