Brother David Steindl-Rast wrote in his book, Gratefulness: The Heart of Prayer, “Whatever causes us to look with amazement opens ‘the eyes of our eyes.’ We begin to see everything as a gift. An inch of surprise can lead to miles of gratefulness.”
I remember a day years ago as I walked with my husband in a park by the San Diego Bay near our home at the time. “Look at this place,” I said, gazing from one scene to the next as though I were a first-time visitor. Water gently patted the sand. A flock of mud hens waddled across the grass. Kids pumped their swings high into the air. Old and young skaters whizzed by on roller blades. Gulls swooped and cawed in the distance as they searched for food.
Houses poked out of hills on the other side of the waterway. The morning sun broke up the clouds and filtered through giant eucalyptus trees along the path. My heart was full. Tears filled my eyes. What is happening to me? I wondered. I’ve been here hundreds of times. Why is it suddenly new and beautiful? Then I realized it was new because that day I recognized all these things as gifts!
“Thank you, Lord,” I prayed, “for the opportunity to be here, to be alive, to walk and to talk, to see, feel and experience all of this.” I kicked off my shoes and ran to the shoreline where I could walk barefoot in the cool sand. I stopped to listen to the birds overhead and gathered a few seashells to add to my collection.
What a wondrous experience I had that day. How different from other times when I had hurried to the park and back home just to get in my hour of exercise, oblivious to the sights and sounds around me––unaware that God made all this for me to enjoy. Like so many adults I had lost my sense of wonder and awe. I couldn’t recognize God’s gifts, so I couldn’t receive them. Once we truly recognize the blessings that surround us and receive them as gifts, we can’t contain ourselves! Like the psalmist we release our cry of praise and gratitude in prayer, in song, and in writing. “Thank you, God!”
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones from our house to yours.