All too often, it seems, we take the world and our role in it all too casually. We wake with a yawn and stumble through our mornings, gulping coffee and rushing to work or elsewhere and paying little to no attention to what’s happening around us.
Gratitude, it seems to me, is the starting point for our lives of prayer, creativity and living well among others. But gratitude is easy to say and harder to live by because it’s hard work. Saying “thank you” to God and to others around us is the simplest thing to do and, yet, we so often forget to do it. Or don’t make time to do it. Or don’t make it a part of our daily experience.
I stand at the edge of the world
Sea and sand swirling ‘round my feet
Anchored by the weight of the pulling and swelling
Facing outward, toward a monochrome horizon
Ocean and sky barely distinguishable one from the other
A landscape that could have been sketched by a No. 2 pencil.
rowing a garden is an act of faith and an acknowledgement of gratitude. It is a gesture of creativity and hope — that what we begin and nurture “with a rake and hoe” can become something else, something bigger and more, something that can be shared around a table.
The history of our art, our music, our science and engineering breakthroughs more often than not springs from our ability to pay attention to the world around us. The ordinary world, from its molecules and atoms to the grandest of canyons and the vastness of oceans, continues to inspire and motivate change, innovation and art.
Asking “what if” is one of the most creative and contemplative questions we can ask ourselves. How many books, poems, paintings, songs, plays or other creative works have come to life because the artist dared to ask, “what if?”
The canvas or paper may begin blank and the light-bulb moment of creation is perhaps ours to savor and celebrate, but only when we realize that our moment of creation out of nothingness come out of our everything. For in that moment of silence is God, and in God is all that we need.
May we take our work seriously and ourselves with a grain a salt, with a growing knowledge that we are only instruments waiting to be played, apprentices under the guiding hand of a master craftsman, young players in need of the maestro’s baton, glimmering pieces of shiny glass and refracted light in search of focus and unity, sparkling moments of inspiration awaiting meaning and purpose, self-knowledge that we are moons, not stars capable of our own energy and light.
There are, indeed, patterns in our lives that exist whether we recognize them or not, whether or not we give them even a passing nod or sing to them a hymn of gratitude.
No blue sky today, I thought. But then I looked, perhaps for the first time that day, at the green. The green of the grass and the trees exploded into my vision and I was taken aback by the utter beauty and contrast of the wet green against the coldness of the rest of the landscape. I woke up, it seems. It’s not drab, I thought, it’s just God telling me to remember that beauty lies all around us, all the time, if we’ll only wake up and pay attention.