1187. Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. ~William Arthur Ward

Gratitude is the understanding that many millions of things come together and live together and mesh together and breathe together in order for us to take even one more breath of air, that the underlying gift of life and incarnation as a living, participating human being is a privilege; that we are miraculously part of something, rather than nothing. Even if that something is temporarily pain or despair, we inhabit a living world, with real faces, real voices, laughter, the color blue, the green of the fields, the freshness of a cold wind, or the tawny hue of a winter landscape. ~Excerpt from an article by David Whyte@gratefulness.org

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Stop what you are doing right now! Just stop for a minute! Close your eyes and feel the in and out movement of your breath. Keep your eyes closed, stay still a little longer, and feel your heart beating. Now open your eyes, take in all the colors and sights around you, and recognize the blessing of sight. Then listen to any sounds you hear and be thankful for you ears and the blessing of both sound and silence. Next reach out your hands and touch something, anything, and become aware of its textures or smoothness, hardness or softness–all those things that come with the blessing of touch. After that find something to take a bite or sip of, and as you chew or swallow, savor and enjoy the flavor and taste of whatever it is. Last, before you return to what you were or were not doing, try to wrap your mind around the “many millions of things that had to come together and live together and mesh together” for all those gifts to be realities in your world. Almost 4 years ago, a day came when all that was threatened to be over for me as the result of 2 clots in my brain. Never, ever take for granted the gifts, the blessings, the miracles, and especially the Giver of the “many millions of things!” Thank you Jesus for this day, these gifts, and your faithfulness!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the Light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. ~John 1:1-5  ✝

**Image via Pixabay; text added by Natalie

1171. Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others. ~Marcus Tullius Cicero

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival…
Treat each guest honorably.
Be grateful for whoever comes.
~Rumi

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Even in seemingly dormant times, we are in transition. Losses and gains are in constant play. We are the change-agent, and we are changed. Even without toil, we transform. So, wisdom advises us to open our hearts to transition; to honor fully what is passing, to learn from all that unfolds, and to welcome what arrives at our door each day with courage and curiosity. ~A Network for Grateful Living

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. ~Colossians 3:16  ✝

**Image of lily taken by me in my yard today. Outer edges deliberately blurred so that focus is on the amazing stamen and anthers.

1162. Let parents bequeath to their children not riches, but the spirit of reverence. ~Plato

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What you encounter, recognize, or discover depends to a large degree on the quality of your approach. Many of the ancient cultures practiced careful rituals of approach. An encounter of depth and spirit was preceded by careful preparation. When we approach with reverence, great things decide to approach us. Our real life comes to the surface and its light awakens the concealed beauty in things. When we walk on the earth with reverence, beauty will decide to trust us. The rushed heart and arrogant mind lack the gentleness and patience to enter that embrace. ~John O’Donohue

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By having a reverence for life,
we enter into a spiritual
relationslip with the world.
By practicing reverence for life
we become good, deep, and alive.
~Albert Schweitzer

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Man’s only true happiness is
to live in hope of something to be won by him,
to reverence something to be worshipped by him,
and to love something to be cherished by him, forever.
~John Ruskin

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Gratitude bestows reverence,
allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies,
those transcendent moments of awe that
change forever how we experience life and the world.
~John Milton

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Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe… ~Hebrews 12:28 ✝

**Images found on Pinterest; collages by Natalie

1140. I tried to discover, in the rumor of forests and waves, words that other men could not hear, and I pricked up my ears to listen to the revelation of their harmony. ~Gustave Flaubert

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You can listen to silence, Reuven.
I’ve begun to realize that you can
listen to silence and learn from it.
It has a quality and a dimension all its own.
It talks to me sometimes.
I feel myself alive in it.
It talks. And I can hear it.

You have to want to listen to it,
and then you can hear it.
It has a strange, beautiful texture.
It doesn’t always talk.
Sometimes – sometimes it cries,
and you can hear the pain of the world in it.
It hurts to listen to it then. But you have to.
~From THE CHOSEN by Chaim Potok

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Be still and listen to the rhythm of your beating heart.

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Be still and feel the in and out movement of your breath.

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Be still and find the peace at the center of your being.

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Be still and seek the presence of your inner child.

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Be still and remember childhood’s simple pleasures.

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Be still and recall the unadulterated innocence of a child

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Be still and let joy now bubble up from gratitude for the gift of life.

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And finally in the silence of your thankfulness be still and listen so that you hear the Lord calling you by name.

Be still, and know that I am God… ~Excerpt from Psalm 46:10  ✝

**Images found on Pinterest and Pixabay

1059. Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life. ~Rumi

The Gift

Be still, my soul, and steadfast.
Earth and heaven both are still watching
though time is draining from the clock
and your walk, that was confident and quick,
has become slow.

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So, be slow if you must, but let
the heart still play its true part.
Love still as once you loved, deeply
and without patience. Let God and the world
know you are grateful.
That the gift has been given.
~Mary Oliver

Sing to the Lord with grateful praise; make music to our God on the harp. ~Psalm 147:7  ✝

1048. God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well. ~Voltaire

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird —
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

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Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

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which is mostly standing still and learning to be
astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,

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which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes, a mouth
with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam…
~Excerpted lines from the poem, The Messenger by Mary Oliver

I am 73 years old and nearly six feet tall, and yet there are things in life that still make me dance a jig and squeal with joy like a child. And I’m not one bit sheepish about doing it either. As many of you know I absolutely adore Mary Oliver’s poetry. It’s as if she somehow managed to crawl around in my soul and heart and then spilled out what she found therein into her poetry. So I bought 4 new books of her poetry at Amazon last week and when they came today, they were greeted with none other than the same unabashed, joyful squeals. Afterwards there was a round of eeny, meeny, miny, mo before picking one of the four to open first. Then I turned to the first poem in it, read the one above, and guess what? I joyfully squealed some more. Damn, but I love that woman’s thoughts and poetry!!!

When I was in college, there were occasions when my friends and I tried to come up with the names of five people throughout history that we’d most like to meet and spend time with. I’m not sure who I would have picked or did pick back then, but at 73 I know for sure who the top 3 on my list would be now–Jesus(God), Claude Monet, and Mary Oliver. The remaining two are still up for grabs, but that’s not to say that they aren’t lots of splendid candidates to choose from. I pray that each and everyone one of you who’ve read this also have something or someone that thrills you to the point of at least wanting to squeal with animated pleasure!

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. ~Matthew 18:3   ✝

1043. Some mothers are kissing mothers and some are scolding mothers, but it is love just the same… ~Pearl S. Buck

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born.
She never existed before.
The woman existed, but
 the mother, never.
A mother is something absolutely new.
~Rajneesh

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If in the passage through the final doors of life gallop dark storms of senile dementia, we who are its witnesses and victims must view the damage as a sickness in and of the flesh and not a failing of the heart nor its love. For it is not what is in the mind or flesh of those who have to endure uncontrollable, internal storms which ultimately rage, worsen, and extinguish their lives that matters; the important thing is the inextricable cords of love that once connected us to them. Mother and child bonds are as strong as our connection to the Maker of all life, and so maybe that’s why on this rainy, winter’s day, my mom has visited my thoughts again. Or it could be the recent passage of her birthday or the gloom of the day that triggered memories of the disquieting breach of peace that caring for her became during the last 7 months of her life. When I invited my mom to come live in our home, I knew it wouldn’t be easy. But what I didn’t realize was that our merged footsteps would upon occasion painfully lead us, partially because of her worsening dementia, to moments which were not our finest hours. Nor did I envision the treachery of steep climbs when we had to cross over slippery, rocky ground into new and challenging territories. However, even though there were terrible moments when we would go up and down as well as in and out of hellish, emotional roller coasters, we coped better at times than we had in the past and with more tolerance of our individual differences. My mother loved her children, but in her newness to motherhood I don’t think she ever really did know how to accept or handle me, her strong-willed, out-spoken, and highly sensitive first born child. Nevertheless, by the Grace of God, we made it through those trying days, and there were even a few of them along the way when we traversed some unexpected, joyful paths. So it is in the quiet grayness of this day that I give thanks for her and for God’s mercy. Mary Catherine and I had long been and would probably always have been enigmas unto one another, but despite our dissimilar traits an abiding love was strong in the sharing of our intertwined lives. Thus I try now to focus not on our differences, inabilities, and disagreements but continue to seek and remember the inherent goodness in the child of God that was my mother. And I pray almost every day for acceptance and forgiveness of her limitations which remain an unsurrendered source of occasionally festering, life-long scars. Forgiveness is, at least in my way of thinking, the miracle of all miracles, and I’ve long believed in miracles.

Then your light will break forth like the dawn and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. ~Isaiah 58:8  ✝