cultivating gratitude

Miracle or Common Occurrence?

“Nothing is worth more than this day,” my calendar shouts, quoting Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

“You cannot relive yesterday. Tomorrow is still beyond your reach.”

I need the reminder. In a world of cares, it’s often necessary to open the blinds and draw back the curtains that hinder my sight.

A typical day finds me pondering child training perplexities, tonight’s menu, or how to prioritize my work. I worry about an upcoming event or how the house will get cleaned. I daydream or relive a book I read without absorbing half the splendors surrounding me.

In Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts, she lists both spectacular and seemingly mundane gifts in her days. One gift I recall now is so ordinary, most of us miss it: the simple pleasure of soap bubbles reflecting sunlight.

Some days – such as achingly gorgeous spring days when the air is apple blossom and lilac-scented and bursting with renewed life and color – I am awake to surrounding charms. More commonly, I’m all but oblivious to the grandeur of life.

My thoughts fill with petty things. I bemoan a hard situation or wrestle with negative thought trains. Internal grumbling and peevish thoughts leave scarce room to wonder over tiny miracles like iridescent bubbles.

Yet, whether or not I realize it, life is brimming with such pleasures. This quote sums it up perfectly. “Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child – our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

The question then, is: will I focus on the wonders all around me? The pleasures God has expressly put in my way? Will I stop and take stock of this day? Treat it as the miracle it is? 

Having a three-year-old child helps. Tonight my son pointed out clouds floating across the evening sky and announced “so plitty (pretty).” I didn’t get it, at first. The sky wasn’t particularly colorful. The scene was lovely, yes, but not unusual. A blue sky, a few white clouds, nothing distinctive.

But that’s the whole point. 

It doesn’t take a stunning sunset to appreciate the evening sky. Something as daily and utterly predictable as the rays of setting sunshine can always be a springboard for gratitude, wonder and joy. 

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