Updated: Nov 27, 2020
When in your life did you feel gratitude the strongest? What circumstances lead up to its sentiment - deep gratitude in all of its profoundness?
Often, I hear the word 'grateful' and, especially around the time of Thanksgiving, I am encouraged to look fondly upon all of the things that I have. And, yet, when I think upon the times I felt gratitude most sincerely - I mean, moved to the bone and wordlessly thankful - I have to honestly admit: those times are often surrounded by difficulty.
Most often, deep gratitude comes out of times best defined by their trouble, suffering or hard feelings.
I was hopelessly lost in a new place, and a stranger gave me time, patience and helpful directions. Unexpected kind words encouraged me when the difficulties of the day lead me to first believe nothing could. A friend welcomed me to be their guest, gave me plumped pillows to rest and food from their pantry to eat. As a guest, I received these crucial gifts and I found I could less adequately return her graciousness than I could express fully all of my thanks. Time and again, I remember to be thankful for health only after sickness falls.
One day, when I was a little girl, I was playing outside with a dear friend. It was winter. I only realized I lost my gloves when I felt my hands had become cold. I looked down at them. They were quite pink and beginning to hurt. My friend, too, stopped to look at them. Without hesitation, she pulled from her hand one of her own mittens. I was more swollen than my fingers! She gave me her mitten. I was amazed and comforted. I was very truly thankful.
Often times, thick, resounding gratitude surges from the most unlikely circumstances. In this strangeness, this apparent irony, I imagine, is precisely its richness.
Gratitude tends to turn things that seem overwhelming into something manageable. It feels like relief, because it reminds me of what I need and it assures me that my needs are met. Likewise, gratitude can turn what seems apparently small into something quenching and wonderful. It is a gentle, refreshing nudge that influences my perception ever so slightly and at the same time thoroughly and potently. It makes two warm hands out of a single mitten. Less about the stuff of plenty, gratitude is its own fullness and abundance.