Radical Gratitude

9:00 AM

 


The practice of gratitude is radical.

I've been a bit stuck in a perception of gratitude as listing, literally writing things down in a list that might be in alignment with my preferences: I'm grateful for apples and the bounty of the harvest...I'm grateful for beauty, and the way it makes me feel. I'm grateful for whipped cream on pumpkin pie, and piles of fall leaves that children throw their bodies into giggling.

And I am grateful for all of these things. But is that all gratitude really is?

This image of fall leaves, sought-after by my husband and I as we drove to Estes Park and beyond for the express purpose of seeing fall colors, fills our hearts with awe and wonder. We could look at it and say, how lovely, this makes our hearts happy because it's beautiful. Taken one step further, though...I've allowed little feelings of apprehension to creep in when I look at fall colors. Winter's coming. The beauty of fall colors can only exist in the alchemy that's inevitable for deciduous trees: the shedding of leaves that are no longer able to do their job.

Letting go of things that no longer serve.
Yay....? Can I be grateful for that?

Can I only be grateful for the beauty of the colors without taking into account the source of the beauty? Maybe gratitude practiced, gratitude matured, involves the surrendering of these kinds of preferences.

Maybe gratitude, deepened and mature gratitude, comes from a process like this because, ultimately, what are preferences if not attachments?

In my contemplative prayer practice, at the moment I'm enamored with the word ALLOW. Something about that word reminds me that I'm not in control so many of the things going on around me. Like the coming of winter.

Mature gratitude doesn't prescribe its conditions. Contentment, true contentment, isn't dependent on preference.

Can I be as grateful for barren trees in the darkness of winter as I am for the burnt orange, deep burgundy, and melon-pink shades of fall? I want to be. I'm practicing.

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