When my father was nearing the end of his life, he spent a lot of time sitting on his back porch. He watched the birds at the feeder, the squirrels running in the yard, and the heron that would fly low over the river every afternoon. He was sitting there because cancer had invaded his body, and the chemotherapy that held it off for two years had taken his strength. I was lucky enough to sit with him at times, and blessed to be with him when he fell out of this life into the arms of God.
Why is it that living with gratitude comes so much more easily when life is difficult? Is it because I am forced to see the giftedness of each day against the backdrop of life’s imperfections? I doubt there’s ever been a day in my life that wasn’t amazing in some unique way, but I’m certain that I was blind to the gifts of many of them. Going forward, I’m going to remember what the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams noted in The Book of Joy;
Gratitude is the recognition of all that holds us in the web of life and all that has made it possible to have the life that we have and the moment that we are experiencing. Thanksgiving is a natural response to life and may be the only way to savor it. (p.242)
The Deer’s Cry, Rita Connolly; from Shaun Davey’s The Pilgrim, 1994