This morning Lindi Lewis shares her honest reflections on gratitude. Thank you Lindi for being open and vulnerable about your struggles and about the goodness you have found in the simple practice of daily journaling your gratitude. I love how this has enabled you to “watch resentments fly”.
With gratitude for your story,
So, at the start of the pandemic, I pulled from my shelf a blank journal, figuring that, given my previous struggles with depression now was the time to focus on gratitude. I determined I would write down at least 3 things each morning and evening for which I was thankful. It has become a sort of mini-Examen at the start and end of each day ever since mid-March.
Some days I struggle to find 3 items; some days I reach many more especially by day’s end. Many are very simple: the first taste of strong, hot coffee, waking up healthy, my beloved dog…. Others are unique to the experience of that day: the joy on my son’s face as he married his beloved, or seeing humpbacks breach from my kayak, or remembering the courage and resilience of my parents (who lived through the Depression and World War 2 in their youth).
Consequently, I’ve become much more aware in the past 8 months of being thankful for many small occurrences each day, taking nothing for granted, but rather savouring each moment, each experience, every memory triggered … In No Man is an Island Thomas Merton states that “unless we are grateful for our own existence, we do not know who we are, and we have not yet discovered what it really means to be and to live.” So, I still have a long way to go.
Am I really grateful for my own existence?
Some days during this pandemic, my answer is Yes. And when it is No, I become aware of resentment and cynicism creeping in.
Henri Nouwen writes that gratitude cannot co-exist with resentment, because resentment “blocks the perception and experience of life as a gift”; these are mutually incompatible. I am slowly learning to embrace gratitude and resentment together.
One of my favourite Mary Oliver poems is entitled “Praying”:
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into THANKS, and a silence in which
another voice may speak. (emphasis mine)
May we find and open that “doorway into thanks,” allowing the silence to speak into the moments of our days, and watch resentment fly.