Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ramblings of a Still Jetlagged Feminist: Radical Gratitude

As some of you may know, I am working on a collection of essays about my recent voyage to the Philippines. Each essay explores a different perspective of my learnings and meditations. This is one of those essays and is entitled, "Radical Gratitude."

There is a sweetness to life that I wish for all to experience someday.

A sweetness of age when wisdom falls into your life after years and pain and triumph and effort.

The sweetness comes in waves and, like the tide, overpowers even the sturdiest stance.

There are few times in our lives when we have the ability to truly experience gratitude. A grace that articulates a clear perception of one’s blessings, gratitude comes only with time, when one’s ability to receive is matched by the comprehension of such rare gifts.

Few days can you wake up and fully grasp the miracle of life, its ability to carry on despite death, disease, corruption, and sin. Life, in all its glory, steals my breath when I open a window and smell the warm air slowly nuzzle into the quiet blades of late summer grass. I am grateful for that smell.

Few days can you laugh over the inevitable (and perhaps even necessary) complications of life – a late appointment, a flat tire, the needles of rain – and move forward in gratitude for simply being alive to witness one more embrace from a loving sister, one more soft kiss from a spouse, and one more conversation with an aging mother.

There is a truth to life that often hides in the folds of activity and bustle: gratitude is experiencing life twice.

Gratitude is what softens us and makes us vulnerable to the fragile reality of our mortality. It deepens our sense of time to where each second becomes an impassable opportunity to open ourselves, to unwind from secrecy, guilt, and unbind ourselves from the hinges of the past. Gratitude is forgiveness, humility, and delivers exhilarating purity.

A natural drug, it propels the mind to see the heart of each act, the true intention of another’s actions, and eradicates insecure bravado and inflation. Pure thanksgiving moves our feet to the side, bows our heads, uplifts and affirms our very self-worth.

I would be nowhere without family. I’d be stunted without friends and for reasons I cannot fathom; I was blessed with the abundance of both. The miracle of each person and their ability to love me quiets every thought in that contemplation. That simple equation of love begets love is the most undervalued lesson in our social development. How had I forgotten that? Love begets love, gratitude begets tranquility.

I intend to live the rest of my life with radical gratitude, a notion that often gets misdiagnosed with expressing thanks. Radical gratitude, a state of perfect spiritual vision, befuddles the temptation to take stock and inventory of one’s personal bank accounts and plans for acquiring more. It leaves the eyes trailing upward and gently taps me when I have enough. In that small prayer it becomes clear that I often have too much; too much for one person to enjoy in one lifetime. It is the only light that uncovers the finest lines of human detail. The clarity of those blessing tastes as sweet as a caramel apple in autumn or strawberry lemonade at noon. It smells like a sleeping baby’s cheek and sounds like rustling green leaves perched high in the clouds. It is as fleeting and weightless as a dandelion’s remains, as delicate as a ballerina’s en pointe, and as vast as the cascade of dark violet mountains. In every crevice of the earth and every inch of our mouths, it waits to captures all of us with its power. It waits to put to rest all of our needless bitterness and folly, banter and noise, bends and fragmentations. It waits to heal all of our questions and brokenness and builds the bridge to voice the words left unsaid, the love still left to do.

Radical gratitude is one’s rebirth, a divine reverence of life.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sudy,

    I've visited your site a few times now (you've changed the layout I see) and just wanted to send you a quick msg to let you know that I appreciate your work.

    I'm a Fil in Canada (also a photog and sometimes writer) who also keeps a blog:

    I look forward to reading more of your stuff...


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