You think that this is just another day in your life. It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you today. It’s the only gift that you have right now. And the only appropriate response is gratefulness. So I wish that you can open your heart to all these blessings, and let them flow through you. Then everyone whom you will meet on this day will be blessed by you. Just by your eyes, by your smile, by your touch. Just by your presence. Let the gratefulness overflow into blessing all around you. And then it will be a really good day. David Steindl-Rast
Living in gratefulness takes away fear. David Steindl-Rast
It’s not a “Please pass the mashed potatoes and a whopping big serving of gratitude!” It’s not a “Fill me up, oh gratitude, and make me happy!” It’s not like that at all. It’s an inside job, this practice of gratitude, an inner Thanksgiving that satiates a hunger that runs deep. And the prep work is nil. It doesn’t require the washing and the peeling of potatoes, the chopping and roasting of squash, the stuffing of a free-range turkey. It can be done anywhere. Even here, on this Thanksgiving Eve, while sitting on a plane pointed west to Seattle with your husband sprawled out beside you sound asleep.
Why not start where you are on the journey to where you are going? Why not fill yourself to the brim even before you and your guy drive the five-hours back east tomorrow morning over the Cascades and south to the Palouse and onto your adventure, even before you walk through the door to the home in Moscow, Idaho and greet them all, your two sons, their wives, your two-year-old grandson, even before you scoop them up in your hugs and your kisses? Why not go for the inner feast before the outer feast? Because even now, late at night and well past your bedtime, and not even close to your destination, even now when you’re over-tired and a little cranky and your partner isn’t going to chat, even now, there is so much to be grateful for. Why not fill your plate with heaping spoonfuls of gratitude as you fly over Nebraska and Wyoming and Montana and into the wee hours of the morning?
Because that’s all there is to it. It’s not hard once you get going. In fact, it’s downright easy. All you have to do is say it. “I’m grateful!” There! You’ve done it! Now feel it. Feel it in your heart because your heart is a wellspring of gratitude. The supply is infinite. “I’m grateful. I’m grateful for this plane that is sailing westward at 35, 000 feet above the earth, the earth that I am so infinitely grateful for, grateful for a smooth sailing ride, grateful for the hummus and crackers and olives and artichoke dip that I just ate.” See how it works! One thing leads to another. “I’m grateful.” You say it again and a steady stream of gratitudes flow from you with ease. “I’m grateful, grateful for the moon and the stars, to be sailing among them, and for the movie that is playing in front of me. Magic in the Moonlight. Magic in the moonlight! I’m grateful for the movie and for a title like that and for the remembering that there is indeed magic in the moonlight, grateful that I’ve watched the silver ripples of moonlight shimmering across the sea, grateful for the sea that I can almost smell right now even as I sit in this plane high above mountains next to my sleeping husband.”
And then there’s your husband! “I’m grateful, so grateful for this man who I’ve known since we were eighteen-year-old kids, grateful that I can pull that teenager out of him in a heartbeat, grateful that our hearts are beating, and that they break wide open when we really breathe deeply and feel how much we love each other.” And don’t lose your momentum now. Keep it going! It is a wellspring, this inner practice of gratitude, a geyser splashing you with happiness. And now you remember something wonderful. It was a simple moment really, just a few hours ago in the Detroit Airport when you stopped in a store where you have sometimes bought clothes to wish the clerk who somehow seems like your friend a very Happy Thanksgiving. You didn’t expect it, her wide-armed hug and the sweetness of connection. So say it now. “I’m grateful, grateful beyond measure for human kindness and human connection, for hearts that press into each other and love that spreads beyond boundaries.”
It doesn’t need to rhyme. It doesn’t need to look pretty on the page. There are no rules of grammar, no limits to its possibilities. You can be grateful for anything. Maybe your childhood cat. Why wouldn’t you be grateful for your childhood cat? You loved her more than life itself! Her name was Snoozles and she was a petite calico with an inky black nose and her mother was Engine Charlie and it was on a Thanksgiving trip to your cousins’ sprawling suburban home in Wayland, Massachusetts that your parents said yes to bringing her back to Maine and it was the most wonderful Thanksgiving ever that year you were four. Except for all the other Thanksgivings. So go on. Be grateful for the others, for all of them, for the Grandmas and the Grandpas and the mothers and the fathers and the aunts and the uncles and the cute boy cousins and the kindred girl cousins, for both sides of the family, for Cousin Julia’s giblet gravy and your father-in-law’s raw oysters, for your toddler sons and the turkey bones that they gnawed on, for toasts to health and toasts to family and toasts to the pilgrims who once lived pretty close to your cousin’s house in Massachusetts and toasts to the turkey itself which sits in the center of the table. It’s all so good! Do you feel it now? It just keeps spreading and spreading! Grateful for the memories, grateful for the anticipation. Oh, it is such a feast, such a feast, filling yourself up with gratitude!