My husband and I recently returned from a trip to the west coast (or the left coast as my family used to call it) where we spent some time on trails in Muir Woods. We were up so high at one point that we looked down to see the Golden Gate Bridge. We took several pauses on the course and between the water and the sky it was almost impossible for the word wow not to seep out of my mouth as I exhaled. It was majestic, stunning - the kind of experience that cannot be captured in a picture. There's a place in my home that feels as satisfying to me as the outdoor trails of Marin County, a place that is rather ordinary by comparison: A comfortable armchair in the corner of my office, wedged between two big windows - one of which displays the Peaks of Otter - positioned underneath a painting, next to a simple round table filled with books and plants, and buried under soft blankets and pillows. It's where I sit almost every morning to do some writing with two dogs and a hot cup of coffee close by, my kids still asleep on the floor above me. There is stunning beauty there too: that of quiet, of softness, of perspective. Gratitude is in us, and it goes beyond a feeling, beyond a comparison to how things could be, beyond a table of contents of the things we are glad to own. Gratitude is like water, filling any open space we'll give it, whether we are perched on a beautiful mountain or nestled in an old chair. It can also fill us when we are not where we want to be, or when our people are not safe, or our feelings are hurt, or our disappointments loom large. How? By inviting our minds to become reverent to what is in front of us, around us, even that which is behind us; pausing to take note of what we see and taste and smell and feel - gifts we could not have given ourselves, journeys we have endured and enjoyed on fuel we did not generate alone. Perhaps this poem by Andrea Potos can be an opening for the water of gratitude to flow. ESSENTIAL GRATITUDE Sometimes it just stuns you like an arrow flung from some angel's wing. Sometimes it hastily scribbles a list in the air: black coffee, thick new books, your pillow's cool underside, the quirky family you married into. It is content with so little really; even the ink of your pen along the watery lines of your dime store notebook could be a swiftly moving prayer. Andrea Potos Here are some ways you can "invite your mind to be reverent":
go outdoors...take a walk, sit near some water or fire.
listen to music
look at old family photos
go to a bakery or flower shop and breathe in the smells
write a letter to a friend
participate in a ritual (church service, prayer, meditation)
Thankful for you, Amanda