Working with gratitude helps me to situate myself in time and place.
During these times of reflection, I am often hyper-aware of being here in this moment, right here, where I listen to the birdnews of the moment, the sounds of the day waking up, the thumps and bumbles of the smallfolk upstairs waking up.
This moment, where I look around to see the way the sun leans in or yawns behind grey haze.
This moment when I sit in expectation of the bright yellow falling leaf, the flash of birdwing across my window, the way sun sparkles on spiderweb.
This moment, in which yesterday’s movement is written in the aches and quirks of my muscles, the curve of my spine.
From the anchor of this moment, reflecting on the list takes me backward and elsewhere, to the color and shape of yesterday, to the shining white pebbles of moments past. I can pick them up and examine them, say, this one and I remember. I can watch how those pebbles are spun into golden strands sustained over time: The presence of a tiny impossible bird in this span of days. The season of the tang of tomato and the sweetness of basil. The long lazy days spent with the exploring feet and minds of my children.
The dailiness of the list also takes me forward into time. This has become my homework, the job I carry with me into each day. It is one of the anchoring ropes which I hold as I step into uncertain future, feeling my way in the grey mist as I go. Stepping forward with the search for gratitude on the agenda means I must go with an open heart, an open mind, searching not only for things, for items to check off my list, but for connections. It means walking into the future as into a puzzle, looking for five pieces of the coming day that will help me to shape the meaning of the picture that surrounds me.
I have been wondering lately at how this has become a habit, how I feel anxious and unmoored if I miss my daily list. For years, it was a thing I would do on occasion, as the mood hit, but in the past several months, it has become a deeper spiritual practice. I shift it from time to time, asking myself questions, or writing the list as a poem. Still, instead of becoming boring or tedious, it has become ever more a place where I can talk to myself, remind myself who I am, where I am, what I am doing here.
1. Getting into the “zone,” that headspace where you get so wrapped up in the work that you don’t notice time passing.
2. Situating myself in time and space.
3. Hummingbird. Please bear with me, but this lives with me as a constant thrill of electric delight in this season. Almost every time I walk outside my house these days, I see her. If she is not on her nest, I can wait and watch quietly, and I will hear her dzipping a zigzag through the air, or I’ll catch a flash of movement through the bright spaces between the leaves of the sycamore. Always. My heart is so full of hummingbird.
4. Hawks. The youngster who lives here in our hollow has begun to settle down and accept her emergence into independent adulthood. Her cries have become more purposeful, less demanding and sulky. She’s finding her way. At the same time, friends of mine on temporary sojourn in a hospital hours to the south of me have been watching a hawk from the hospital window. She has become the Guardian, the One-Who-Watches. In these days, when my heart is here in this place and also in that place, I find comfort in our taloned watchers, a sense of the thread that crosses distances. My heart is full of hawk.
5. The powerful truth of thread, of yarn. How ideas and love and dreams are spun like yarn, twisting people and thoughts together, expanding and lengthening through time and space, connecting, always connecting. How threads are woven and knitted together to make cloth, unifying, incorporating different people and ideas together, connecting, always connecting. How diversity of color and texture within a cloth is part of what makes it beautiful. The image that keeps returning to my mind these days from Madeline L’engle’s Wrinkle in Time, of the distance from one end of the thread to the other, but how a wrinkle brings the ends together–I think this applies to distant hearts as well as to tessering through space. When we tune our hearts to each other (an act which I call prayer), we create a wrinkle that brings us together, no matter what sort of distance in time or space or belief separates us.
May we walk, always, in Beauty.