A way to live…
Many times, I am certainly less than grateful. My busy and agitated mind – that is the work of the mind, after all, to flit about, to search for connections, to argue, to consider – does not want to be grateful. What? Be grateful? It will ask. What is there to be grateful about? From there, the litany of horrors begins.
Life is hard, to be sure. Life is hard for all human beings, it seems. Even for those of us who have the privilege of food and shelter and an education – those things we take for granted, or those things we take credit for achieving (I would argue this) – life is hard. We lose loved ones. Our hopes are not achieved. A child is addicted. Our life partner is not faithful. We don’t get the work we want. We are not making as much as we would like. We are ill with a chronic condition.
So even those of us who do have the privilege of food and shelter and education will at some time be the victim of the precarious-ness of life. We are human beings. We live on a planet that has sustained human-kind – so far, that is – and yet we, too, will die. Life is uncertain.
We find it hard to be grateful.
It is good and solid practice simply to be grateful. It is easy to be grateful for the things that go well – the “positive” things, or so we name them. It is easy to be grateful for the times when the tides of life seem to go our way, and the sun is shining on us. It is harder to be grateful when we are being dealt a hand we would not have chosen for ourselves.
To me, the deeper spiritual practice, the practice that brings us to our most faithful, most human selves, is the spiritual practice of giving “thanks in all circumstances.” I take that literally. I take that to mean that I can give thanks even for those things I would not have chosen, for those things that do not make me happy, for those things that seem to be at odds with what I want.
My work, then, is simply to be thankful, grateful, accepting of whatever is.
When I give thanks for all things, when I give thanks for whatever this day brings – the dark mood, the wave of grief, the relationship that is not going smoothly, the call that does not come – I am swept to a deeper place, a place of wisdom, a place of acceptance, a place, even, of comfort.