We all experience times when it feels like we are just floating from day to day: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday – the days running and blurring together. Sometimes we manage to make a little more effort on Saturday and Sunday. The two days of the week worth the long week of drudgery.
I have been there. Then I decided to practice a tiny bit of gratitude – counting my blessings, and finding joy in the simple things. It was kind of like an experiment. It wasn’t long before I stretched open wide my heart, and let the beauty of every day moments seep in. Eventually it became a habit and a way of life. It is now a part of me. It has changed me. Gratitude will do that.
Our life is defined by time: hours, days, weeks, months, and years. All made up of tiny moments. They may seem insignificant. Can you recall specific moments from the past? Ones that bring you joy? Are you able to remember the sounds, and scents? Are they like snap shots in your mind? Your memory has captured them and framed them, because you remember the emotions connected to them!
Learning to celebrate moments is an art. Like stones or pebbles on a beach, we need to begin collecting moments one by one, stacking them up, until they overflow and begin to tumble down and surround us. Then even on the difficult days we are reminded that things can and will get better. Before long, we will realize we have collected thousands of moments of gratitude. They are a fortress of protection against the negative in the world. It is guaranteed that there will still be bad days filled with anger, sadness, fear and sorrow. It is not if we will face them, but when. What matters is what we have in our lives to face them when they do. The moments we collect along the way will fortify us and create walls of strength for those times. They are a life line. They will remind us to be grateful in all things, even in the tough times.
The first sight of a spring robin after a long winter, the look of joy on a child’s face, winter’s first soft snowfall, the way the light falls through the window, an adventure, the smell of a campfire, reeling in the big fish, morning coffee, early morning in a kayak, picking daisies, the sound of waves, fresh baked bread, homemade jam, holding hands, talking with a friend…
Sometimes I write them down. Other times I reach for my camera, so that they can be captured and recorded in my memory forever. Mostly they are seared into my memory, because I have taken note that these moments are not just ordinary. They are moments that define my life.
Our days are so busy. We need to learn to slow down and look around and reflect. I am frequently reminded of years ago when I lived in a row house in Holland. Every day at 10:00 a.m. life literally stopped. We all lived with our patio doors open. Each day I would hear the clinking of dishes as the table was being set. There were tiny cups, saucers and miniature spoons. The aroma of the dark Dutch coffee filled the air. A plate of cookies would be put out. For at least 20 minutes life would come to a standstill. Conversation would be had. Laughter could be heard. Some days guests would join in. It didn’t matter what you had to do that day. The moment was celebrated. There was no reason to hurry. In America, I believe we live too fast. Hurrying hurts us and empties us. It limits us. We are unable to see the moments around us because of our busy ways. We need to intentionally quiet ourselves.
The call of a loon across the lake, homemade ice cream on a hot, humid summer night, sitting in a blueberry patch, eating fresh garden vegetables, a good night’s sleep, waking next to the one you love, sharing a laughter-filled dinner with friends, silent moments, a favorite book…
After awhile we even begin to create moments, gathering up beauty, eager to add them to our list. We create moments with our loved ones, and hand them down from generation to generation. Maybe someday my great-grandchildren will know that a particular moment was created for them as a tradition.
A fresh baked pie, the feel of the garden soil in my hands, starry skies on a cold winter’s night, newborn babies, walking through autumn leaves, swimming in the dark, listening to a grandparent, waking in a tent, northern lights, a perfect movie, catching fireflies, fireworks, sunrises, sunsets…
One by one our collection grows bigger, and life grows fuller. We are stronger. Gratitude multiplies. Our hearts begins to expand. Time marches on, but now it is no longer disappearing before our eyes, because now we are stopping and taking careful notice. We find we are no longer empty, but full. “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” we whisper each day. We learn it is easier now to give thanks in all things. It just takes practice. It works. So we continue on at this art, because one day it just may save us.