Is it possible to separate joy and gratitude? Think of the most joyful moments in your life…the brief moments when everything is ‘right’ when it feels as though all of the stars are properly aligned and the world is bursting with the same joy that you are feeling. Doesn’t that feeling just naturally flow into gratitude? Usually those moments don’t last too long because in seeps our worries and concerns, our fears and uncertainties. But, for that short time, the feeling of connectedness with all of nature, with all of humanity, with all that is, is so joy-filled that it causes us to bow our heads in humility and say, “thank you”.
Have you ever offered quite support without anyone knowing? How about extending a kindness anonymously? Ever love without receiving love in return? Our human nature wants to scream…..’it’s me, don’t you see what I did for you? How about a word of thanks…!’ But there is something special, something magical in keeping it to ourselves, locking the deed inside our hearts where it is kept secret, or is it?
The One who reads hearts sees all and knows all and plants that Mona Lisa smile of gratutude on our faces as we watch the results of our actions. The secret that is in our hearts is being shouted throughout all of the heavens.
There are so many different phrases that mean the same thing….but they all refer to times when you are not centered in your life, with who you are, where you are going, what your priorities are, and how to simply ‘get there’. It is specifically at those times that you need to stop and take a step back. Stop what you are doing, where you are headed, and what you are trying to achieve. It is specifically at those times when you need to be quiet and still. And, in the stillness, in the emptiness, in the quiet, you will once again find your center. Let go, get off the treadmill and sit. Let your God, who speaks in silence, speak to your heart. Let God lead you back to who you truly are.
How many times do we ‘beat ourselves up’ when we make a mistake or fail at a task? We are so quick to be critical of ourselves and in our reflection at the end of the day it is so easy to regret a word or action. Most of the time, we are even harder on ourselves than others are. Every day there are missed opportunities, but for most of us there is tomorrow and a new day always carries a promise of hope to try again, to be a bit better, kinder or more compassionate.
In our evening reflections we should never forget to also acknowledge our successes. Not in a prideful way but in a peaceful manner. The truth is, we do accomplish much each day. We do reach out to others. We do offer a kind word or a helping hand. We do brighten the days of those around us. We do make others smile. We do lift the spirits of the down hearted.
At the end of each day we should lift our eyes to heaven and offer a prayer of thanks and then smile and know that the response from above is “a job well done.”
It’s been said that the heart has a language all its own. How true. The heart is the holder of emotions, memories, tears, and hope. It is a secret place where dreams come true and where offered love is received, cherished and returned. It is a special place where all tears are tears of gratitude and love. The heart holds memories and over time softens them and shapes them into gentle gifts. It is where it’s ok to be irrational, silly and eternally young. It is able to communicate directly with another heart bypassing the mind. It communicates without words, it speaks through the eyes, through a glance, a stare, a downward gaze. It listens with the filter of love and a quick hug can lift you into eternity. When you experience a moment where two hearts connect, know that you are blessed.
Today I was too busy to appreciate the sunshine, too busy to hear a breeze, too busy to stop and offer a kind word, too busy to watch a child, too busy to offer thanks, too busy, too busy. There was much work to do and much work got done, but at the end of the day I feel a loss. I missed the sunshine and the relationships and the child. Tomorrow I have a choice, I can continue to be busy or I can stop and remember that my work does not define me and that what needs to be done will get done. I can remember that I am not alone and that I work and walk with God.
Sometimes we go for entire days just skimming the surface. Those are the days when we work and we interact but we don’t reflect and go inside of ourselves. These can be called our robot days. I suppose that we all have these days sometimes and that’s ok but we should catch ourselves and not let too many of these days pass. We are too special to reduce ourselves to functioning only. We are more than our work…….Go inside and discover and re-discover who you are. You may just like what you find.
There are times, moments, in my life that I look back on and wish that they were here again. It’s funny, at the time it may have been ‘just another day’ or even a day that I couldn’t wait to end. And now, I know that those moments are lost forever. The littlest things, the tinest memories are by far the most precious.
Yesterday in the grocery store I watched as a busy mom shopped. Her two young sons trailing behind her. The youngest son was barely old enough to talk and he was trying so hard to say something ‘most important’ to his brother. The words were slow and forced but had such enthusiasm and excitement behind them. It was something about what he wanted to do when they returned home. His older brother wasn’t paying too much attention and his mom was trying her best to do what needed to be done in a very busy store.
I watched with such feeling….this little soul had something to say and everyone was too busy to listen. How many times have I been too busy to listen, really listen to those around me, to those whom I love more than anything? How many times have I not bothered to really listen to others because I may not agree with what they are saying or because I have a ‘better’ idea?
Time is precious, and people are even more precious. Moments don’t last forever…..things change. That little boy will grow up and probably say some really important things in his life. But that moment, that labored sentence was the most important thing. Let’s not ignore the voices of the children. Let’s not write them off because they may be about something as ‘unimportant’ as a catepillar on the sidewalk, a pretty flower or a cloud formation. It’s wonderful to reflect back on those precious memories but it’s even more wonderful to stop and really ‘live’ and appreciate those moments in the present.
At some point today we should pause for a moment of two and remember the events of nine years ago. It was a day that shocked the world and a day that changed people’s lives. When tragedy strikes so suddenly we feel so vulnerable and helpless. We need to rely on our God to somehow bring peace to our shattered hearts.
9/11 was a National tragedy, but every day individuals have to face their own tragedies. Some are shared with family and friends, and some must be felt and dealt with alone. We must always remember and have compassion for the many who are suffering their own sorrows.
And this pain is expressed in so many different ways. Some become bitter and angry, some resentful and jealous, some withdrawn and isolated. These traits are not the person, they are a manifestation of the person’s life experiences.
Let us try to look beyond the actions and into the heart. Let us look with our hearts direcly into the hearts of others. And then we can understand just a little better, the suffering and pain that is so prevalent in our world. And, let us always turn to our God who stands ready to comfort us with open arms.
I fully understand why hamsters run on a wheel but I’m struggling with why people do…….thoughts?