The alarm goes off and my husband is up, out of bed, and into the living room to do his sit ups and pushups. Soon after, he’s out the door for his two mile walk and back home again to unload the dishwasher. Just after he puts the coffee on, he comes into the bedroom, kisses me and asks me what I want for breakfast.
I think about the days when I had to get up and get the kids dressed and fix their lunches and put a load of laundry in and start dinner and drive to work and work eight hours and then stop at the grocery store on my way home—you know (or remember) the drill—and now I’m in this kind of fairy land, dream-world life.
Just as my husband heads back out to the kitchen, a dove flies into the glass door by the bed with a thud. Startled, she lands on her feet, shakes her head a few times and takes off, sailing over the fence as if nothing had happened.
“It’s Spring,” my husband had commented the other day when we’d noticed her flying back and forth around our patio. “She’s building a nest.”
How grateful I am on behalf of the little bird. Grateful for her nest, for the new life she is preparing, and for the fact that she had been merely stunned when she knocked her head on the window.
I think of all the living beings in the world who have hard knocks every single morning of their lives and of people who don’t have sweethearts to kiss them awake, let alone to ask them what they want for breakfast. I think of those who don’t have warm nests being built for them. People for whom Spring is hard to see.
Refugees. Prisoners. Slum-dwellers. Orphans. Maybe even the guy down the street.
I am awash with gratitude for the plenty and abundance in my life, for the more-than-enough-to-go-around and for the simple peace of mind and the time in which to enjoy it.
After breakfast I will take a hot shower under clean water that washes over me from a spray nozzle; I will use shampoo designed especially for “color damaged” hair. When I dry off I will put lotion on my skin and clean clothes on my body.
Appreciation and wonder.
How did this happen? Why me?
The lesson however, is not to ask, “Why me?” The lesson instead is to practice opening your heart wide enough to allow all the appreciation and wonder in without diminishing it with guilt or comparisons or self-doubt—or especially with questions like, “Why me?”
Guilt and self-doubt push gratitude away. They are ways of saying: “No, thank you.”
“Just be grateful,” I tell myself. That is your calling now, at this time of your life. That is what brings balance to a world in which Spring can be hard to find and there is so much suffering.
“Balance the suffering with gratitude. That is your practice.”
It is a simple, and yet so difficult, thing to be grateful. It requires stretching our hearts to receive all that has been given, exactly as it has been given. And it requires that we be…happy.
“Thank you,” I remind myself again. “Just say ‘thank you.'”
I look out the window and see the dove flying low to the ground with a twig in her beak. If I stretch a bit, I can see the nest she is building from my window.
Author: Carmelene Siani
Editor: Travis May