Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanks Given

There are times when the membrane between matter and spirit is tissue paper thin, times when the transcendent defies circumstance, resists control and suddenly shoots through the permeable membrane to provide something new—for no reason.

It can come through a sense, be an insight, a rush of gratuitous love, the touch of another person, or a bit of wise humor that elicits laughter. It can even be a releasing sob.


Such moments tend to happen at times of birth, death, or deep helpless pain, either emotional or physical.


To that traditional list I would add moments of gratitude and wonder when you feel the puncture of something getting to you through you, but you know it’s not of your own making or quite commensurate with your circumstance. It simply comes to you through you—a surprise, inspiring deep gratitude.


My friend just told me she got new sneakers—and feet. She has suffered from neuropathy due to M.S. With therapy, chiefly massage, she suddenly feels her feet. “All tingly with gratitude.”


Our son John, 38, who has a chronic progressive disease, loves ladybugs. He spotten one the morning before one of his surgeries several years ago and saw it as a sign, a little bit of heaven on earth. Yesterday he spotted a wee yellow ladybug and exclaimed spontaneously “Hey Ladybug, everything’s going to be all right.”


The summer I turned eight I inhaled gratitude through my nose. I was sitting on the edge of my bed after a day of riding my pony through fields and over dusty roads at the upstate New York farm where we summered. A hot breeze ruffled the curtain. As I reached down to pull off my boots and remove my jodhpurs I was unexpectedly intoxicated by the odors of the day—hay, saddle soap, horse lather— smells I knew well, smells that happened every single summer day, smells that in this moment carried more than familiarity with them.


I didn’t know what had happened, why it happened just then, or from whence it came, I just knew I felt flooded with gratitude, a joy so delicate it eluded even thanksgiving.


Make your list of blessing and gratitude, recite it well and often. And watch for those things that don’t make it onto lists but count even more. Thanks given.