Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Resurrecting Gratitude

I woke this morning with a small person lying beside me, her sweet face lost in dreams of all that is holy and beautiful.   A rush of gratitude washed over me and it felt like a baptism.  I hadn’t felt that for a long, long time.  My spirit was lighter, like some of  the heaviness of the last few years had left me and gone scavenging for someone else’s joy to devour.  A silvery thread of illumination, hiding behind my heart, revealed there was a search light in there somewhere if I could just flip its switch and look for other thankful moments hidden away  far too long.  The deep depression that had been suffocating me, through pillows of self- pity, shame, and regret  began lifting.  After I stopped struggling so mightily, they too gave up the battle to destroy my life and when they left, I grabbed onto any ribbon of hope.  One of those ribbons showed up in the teachings, excerpted from a book by Father Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater. He refers to God as Father of Light.  It is that concept of a Higher Power that is helping to bring me back to a my personal relationship with God.  And, a helpful tool that I have been using every day.  

“Only an hour-by-hour gratitude is strong enough to overcome all temptations to resentment.” - Father Rohr 

Resentments.  I’ve had a few.   Being on social media did not help me in that area.  Everyone’s life looks so incredibly rich and blessed, or at least that is what people want you to think.  All polished up with their Sunday best on display.  Father Rohr says, “If there is one characteristic of holy people, I would say it’s honesty.  They just don’t pretend anymore.  They are not into pretense and performance and trying to present that they are something other than what they really are.  They’ve met the enemy, and the enemy  is themselves.” That statement fit like a puzzle piece in my goals for this year. 

Authenticity as a pathway to God and being who you were created to be. 

I’ve known for years I am my own worst enemy.  It’s a lesson that continues to repeat itself.  Maybe lessons are like taking French in High School and speaking relatively fluently for the first year, but when you visit Paris five years later, a refresher course is needed to fine-tune what you thought you learned.  And, if you don’t practice it on a daily basis, you lose a great deal of your skill.  

Gratitude is like that too.  A spiritual skill necessary to a happy, peaceful life.  

It’s hard to find much genuine gratitude, the kind that sticks to your ribs and leaves you fully satiated when you are busy comparing yourself and your life to others. Comparison is a coffin to feelings of gratitude.  I’ve also discovered through the years, the simpler things we learn to be grateful for, have a longer-lasting effect on us than the worldly things. 

Detaching from the bright lights of other people’s happy lives showcased online, was essential for me this summer in order for me recognize the biggest blessings arrive in smallest moments of my own life.  I am a child of the Father of Light.  I have inherited His light and it was time to cast on the beauty present in my life, hour by hour:

A sleeping grand-daughter.
As I type this, my view of the sunshine streaming through the trees and warming my head.
A safe trip home with a headful of memorable adventures of New York City for my oldest grand-daughter to share with me. 
The ability to get up from a lounge chair at the pool this year.
Surrounded by sunshine, flowers, and peace on my patio reading my latest book.
Eyes to read my book.
Coffee from Seattle.
An easy, healthy, summer dinner with my mother and sister-in-law.
The feeling of color and heat on my slightly sunburned skin.
The chill of the ice cream flavor of the week on my tongue.
The strong legs that are emerging from trips to the gym again.
The unconditional love of friends who make time for me.

Hour by hour, something to be grateful for is doing some deep cleaning and revealing a good soul, who is much too hard on herself and whose life is perfect, just as it is in this very moment.  

 Thank you Father of Light for rewiring mine and reminding me gratitude is an hour by hour deal. 

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