As I demurely sat in this delightful cafe, musing over what I want my first actual post to be about, I credit these wise words from my pal, G.K. Chesterton, for the proper inspiration:
“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”
This first essay of mine is a tribute to thankfulness: the serene knowledge that I have been blessed and highly favored.
On this invigorating fall day, I am reminded of how easy it is to be appreciative of the primary blessings in life: family, friends, sound health, the beauty of nature, exciting future plans, etc. But being no fool, I am also all too aware, as you are too, of the grotesque stuff in life: jealousy, despair, suffering, torture, pain, etc. What to make of the ugly parts? I maintain that the struggle to be grateful and find meaning in the dreadful, gross faces of life is the noblest battle indeed. I will never cease to extol Viktor Frankl’s brilliantly hopeful book, Man’s Search for Meaning, for granting me the powerful insight into reality that guides me even today,
“We who lived in concentrate camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Consume these words. Let them nourish your soul with hope, as they did mine. These days while we take care what our mouths chew, we must also be cognizant of the sustenance we allow our brains to gnaw upon. I firmly believe that it is our job to manifold the blessings with which we have been blest, to multiply the gems of our talents and gifts. The question is loudly put to us when we discern our life’s work, but it is also whispered in our hearts each occasion we touch the life of another – even think of the awkward minutes we pass in the elevator each morning with a random companion. To paraphrase the great Mother Teresa, we have the great capability to leave each person better and happier than when we found them. How are we using that power?
To conclude this lovely jumble of attempted acumen, I want to leave you with this beautiful poem that I first unwillingly memorized in the fifth grade. It still plays through my mind (and with ah! bright wings…read it out loud and you will know exactly what I mean) every time I am witness to such natural beauty, as in the picture above from atop Mount Tabor, that I captured when I traveled through the land of Israel two Christmases ago.
By: Gerard Manley Hopkins
THE WORLD is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.