Until the onset of this summer, my family had a practice of giving thanks for something before our evening meal. Once the routines of school ceased, we somehow... forgot. We got busy moving house, not everyone was home all the time, we found that most evenings we were busy just DOING all the wonderful things we loved to do. So...our practice of being thankful - along with some other good habits like brushing teeth every night, and going to bed at a reasonable time - fell by the wayside.
When the shit hits the fan and life gets busy, it can be so hard to keep a positive outlook. The exhaustion. The very real physical, emotional and mental effort it takes to get through a day can really sap my energy, and some days it can feel so inauthentic to muster up Gratitude. There is still, after all these years of spiritual practice, a little voice within me that still says "How trite! How can you say you are thankful for your family when (really) they have annoyed the hell out of you today with their neediness and whining". Ouch. Am I really such a horrible person?
When I quiet that horrid voice, I find that I miss the repetitiveness of the daily Gratitude Practice - family, food, sunshine, friends. Yawn.
I miss the insights: Chickens. Mudboots. Spiderwebs. Icicles. Toilet Paper. The Supermarket. Teachers. Friends. Airplanes.
One particular morning last winter, my newly-5-year-old daughter gave thanks for the sunshine that had just risen on the lake outside our window. She was right, of course - it sparkled on the ice surface, with a rainbow of muted colors that somehow we had missed seeiing until that moment. Almost every day last winter she gave thanks for the warm air coming out of the Rinnai, for music and for her friends.
I am so thankful for her ability to see what I cannot...really, for my incredible life - the places I get to call home, my loving family spread far and wide, the people who swirl around me.
Every day is different: small things to honor in our lives - sometimes mundane, always essential, and yet it's not always easy to see and feel the connections.
Stepping outside each day helps me reconnect with the essential practice of giving thanks for everything I have.
So this month we start over.
What are you thankful for, today?