Friday, December 5, 2014

day twenty-seven: 27 days of gratitude

Today, what I am most grateful for is that the challenge to post about my gratitude has come to an end. As with all things, the exercise came at a time when I most needed to adjust my thinking and at a time when it was most difficult to do so.  In the last six weeks, I said a final farewell to a hoped-for relationship, spent the holidays without family, children or the hope of them (and feeling a bit self-pitying about it), found out painful health related news from my dear beloved friend, witnessed and experienced the ongoing grief that accompanies the death of my coworkers beautiful child and kicked my own emotional ass with uncommon veracity.

In the end, I am grateful for the unknowable, uncertainty of life because fighting it or trying to explain it away is simply not effective and causes unimaginable pain for myself and others.  Through this 27 day journey I learned that perhaps gratitude is not the word I have been searching for, but appreciation.

Let's face it, it's difficult to be grateful in the face of suffering, it feels a little forced.  BUT I can appreciate.  I can appreciate the kindness of a stranger holding my wayward trunk open as I fill it with groceries.  I can appreciate the sunrise over a cold day.  I can appreciate my sweet soul-sister's courage in the face of so much uncertainty.  I can appreciate my past because I am wiser and a more empathetic parent and human because of it.  I can appreciate the intensity of grief surrounding a loss because it reminds me just how much my heart is capable of caring and loving.  I can appreciate my beautiful home and my two amazing children.  I can stop whatever busy-nonsense I am engaged in and truly listen to them when they share the details of their day.  I can appreciate the strong seed of hope that looks out on life with clear eyes, joyfully anticipating the next horizon.  I can appreciate so much of my life and it is a 24 hour, 365 day-a-year practice.

It's natural.  I breathe.  I can appreciate the air filling my lungs.  I eat. I can appreciate all the life forms from which that food came.  Appreciation is an attitude of thanks.  It is a choice.  Life is uncertain.  It is unknowable.  I can appreciate it even if I don't always like it, even if existential questions rise up demanding WHY and perhaps, with a little appreciation, I can befriend the questions themselves and as Rilke wrote: “... Perhaps then, someday far in the future, [I] will gradually, without even noticing it, live [my] way into the answer.” 

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