Today I am grateful for –
a new day
all those wonderful people out there whom I might meet today
waking up pain free
a warm house
a garden with trees and flowers
tomato seedlings on the windowsill, just emerging from the compost
I could go on …. and all that is before 8am! (Though I confess I find this much easier first thing in the morning than later in the day.)
Those of you who are Facebook friends with me will have seen that I quite frequently use this format for my status updates. It’s a good practice for me, especially on days when a lot of things are not the way I would like them to be. I adopted the practice having been inspired by the example of a friend who has considerable health problems, but is really good at maintaining a positive attitude to life. I find that expressing the gratitude I feel strengthens it considerably.
A few years ago, among the ‘unwanted’ christmas gifts in our household was a good quality birthday book. I didn’t have use for another birthday book (one really is sufficient, and is scarcely a necessity) but I was sure that a notebook with a space for each day must have a use. I came up with the idea of a blessings book. I changed the title on the cover and challenged myself to record everyday the ‘blessings’ I was grateful for that day. Some days it was not easy, but it turned out to be a very encouraging experience. I allowed repetition. After all, I really can be grateful for sunshine every day for a week, and for friends, and so on, but I tried to record the things that specifically stood out each day.
One of the prompts that led me to think hard about gratitude was Michael Mayne’s comment near the end of his book ‘A Year Lost and Found‘ about his experience of ME. He observes that we are called to give thanks for everything. Not just the good things that happen to us, but everything. To be really, truly grateful for everything. I haven’t yet got to the stage where I can be truly grateful for having suffered from ME. (Having just written it, I realise that the preceding sentence contains the truth of the matter. If I was truly grateful for the illness I wouldn’t be use the verb ‘suffer’ about it.)
Another was one of the Reiki principles that I encountered when I received my first Reiki attunement. Three of the five were very much things I was already aiming to do (following ‘Advices and Queries’), although phrased differently. The other two really made me think: ‘Express gratitude to …’ and ‘Respect your elders, … teachers’. Not just be grateful, but ‘express gratitude’. I was prompted to look for opportunities to express my gratitude. Some of these are private, like the blessings book; some more public, like Facebook statuses; some, and these are really important, are face to face, thanking people directly for something they have done for me. This is relatively easy when the gratitude is for something recent (eg making me a cup of tea, serving me in a shop) and the thanks are immediate, it is more challenging to thank people for something ongoing, or something they have done in the past (eg one’s parents for all the care they gave one as a child, a teacher for ongoing support over a period of time).
Tomorrow is ‘Mothering Sunday’ when it is traditional to thank our mothers for all they do for us. It could be a good practice to broaden this and to thank other people for the help and support and love they give us. Which brings me round to the theme for Watford meeting’s all age worship tomorrow ‘a nestful of gratitude’. If you are in the Watford area you are welcome to join in, any time between 9am and 11.30. Worship will include breakfast, activities around the theme and a period of quiet together.
Who will you thank today? What will you express your gratitude for?