(The following essay is included in the May/June Joy Center snail mailing.)
Count your blessings. Proverb Quote
“You’re blessed,” she said, as she handed me the receipt and the pens that I was buying for my upcoming trip. She said it without an ounce of envy; she said it with a smile, this beautiful woman at the office store. And I felt my shoulders relax more deeply and I smiled back at her. I am blessed. And I am appreciative of my blessings. I’m heading off on an adventure today, Mystery Trip 2013, with a husband who I have known since I was eighteen, and we’ve still got it, nearly forty years later, a spark that keeps us together. It’s my turn to surprise him this time around, in a game we’ve been playing for a decade. Choose a destination, anywhere in the world, and hold the secret tight for as long as you can, preferably until you climb aboard that last plane that carries you to wherever you’re going. I’m thrilled to feel the thrill still, after all these years, thrilled to lead him astray in this way, thrilled to watch his excitement grow, thrilled to think of his thrill when he finally finds out where his feet are going to land. I know that I am blessed, appreciative that I have the means to carry out such an adventure, that I can pull out my charge card and reserve a room for us anywhere in the world, appreciative of my bounty.
And I want to tell you that there is more to it, this being blessed, more than the outward trimmings of a comfortable home and a playful partner and a charge card at your fingertips. I want to tell you that it’s here for the taking, in all moments – the blessing, the appreciation, the gratitude. A week ago, as the dusk sky, over the high prairie of Wyoming, slipped into nightfall, I found myself in the small town of Wheatland surrounded by these wide plains and the icy roads and no other villages in sight, in Wheatland, after a several hour adventure of trying to make my way from the Denver Airport to Laramie in the aftermath of a snowstorm. And I confess, that it didn’t feel like a blessing to have I-80, the direct route to my destination where my son, daughter-in-law and baby grandson live, blocked off, shut down, off-limits, didn’t feel like a blessing to discover, when I arrived in Wheatland, a stopover on my alternative Plan B for getting to Laramie the next morning, that every hotel in town was filled up, overflowing, in fact, with others, like me, stranded by the weather. It didn’t feel like a blessing when my charge card, the one that I’m used to wielding with some sort of power, was impotent. A charge card isn’t worth a penny when there’s no bed for the taking.
And yet, the blessings were many. I had rented a Subaru at the Denver Airport, and I’m a gal who knows how to drive a Subaru, through snow and over ice and on roads that are slushy. And my kids and my husband – they were a phone call away, and they, from Michigan and Knoxville and Laramie, cheered me on. And there was the dispatcher – and I’m not even sure what a dispatcher is – whose number was given to me by the front desk woman at the Best Western, the dispatcher who tried her darndest to get me a room somewhere in town, and, when she couldn’t, directed me to the Armory. And there was the Armory. The Armory! And a friendly greeting party, two women, who told me, when I said that I had no place to stay, that there was room at this inn, and the Great Dane, who, on her long loping legs, ran over and greeted me, and the two toddlers, and their parents, who were also stranded, and the twenty other people, and the smell of a cake baking, and a cot to sleep on. Honestly, I am blessed and my bounty is great.
And when I return home from this trip, the one that is about to happen, the one that is still a secret, I’ll come back to my life here in these northern woods – and the snow, it will be melting, and maybe I’ll ski, one final time, and then the trout lilies will poke through the thawing earth and the trillium will bloom and the robins will start building their nests. It’s a bountiful world and I’m appreciative of this bounty. And Joy Center is filled with it, the bounty, the abundance, the joy of expansion, and it’s ours for the taking. It’s here for each one of us. The yoga, the meditation, the art and personal growth workshops, the presentations and performances. The music, the movies, the storytelling. Let’s count our blessings. And let’s share them with each other. Happy Spring!!!