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FTIAT: Little Gratitude

Peg (Ramblings) was one of the first bloggers I stumbled upon in my efforts to expand my blogging horizons. Her tongue-in-cheek approach to most topics has had me giggling at things—such as the cost of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act freeway signs—that in less deft hands might be as hard to wade through as this sentence. But, oh! Her hands are deft, whether she’s using them to write compelling posts or to modify images in equally compelling, usually hilarious ways.

Recommended post: Contract Law 401: Negotiating With God

Little Gratitude

I have… my children…my husband and my friends…enough to eat…a home…my health, and the health of my family…an agile brain and the education to feed it… a loving, supportive family that nurtures me…been born to a country where freedom is a right.

When I consider how much I have, the concept of gratitude is overwhelming. My mind shies away from it. I have done nothing to earn these things. There cannot be enough gratitude in the world for this embarrassment of riches.

I am reminded of Saint Therese of Lisieux, a French nun who lived in the 19th century and died at the tender age of 24. She knew she would probably never do big, great things with her life. She decided to praise God and help others by concentrating on the small things; how she handled chores, annoyances and the myriad triumphs and tragedies of daily living. She called this the Little Way.

“The only way I can prove my love is by… the doing of the least actions for love.”

I don’t mention Saint Therese as a prelude to comparing myself to her in any way, although her example encourages me anew to do better. No, I thought about the Little Way because it has something to do with how I have approached the blessings in my life.

My gratitude for all the big things is bedrock supporting an intention to try to truly appreciate the small, as well. I have unconsciously adopted a habit I will call the Little Gratitude.

In my life, there have been moments out of time that strike me almost a physical blow with their sweetness. Here are a few remembered:

  • Running down the stairs in my parents’ home, my home, and being stopped, just for a moment, by the particularly luminous quality of autumn sun. It is pouring like golden, melted butter through the small, high windows of our front door, setting the dust motes to dancing before it falls onto the carpet of the front hall. Wanting to curl up like a contented cat in that spot of sun, secure in the knowledge of being a child well cared for, and well loved.
  • Driving, every day, over the bridge that leads to my home, oblivious to my surroundings. Then a gleam on the water catches the corner of my eye. The setting sun, peeking from under low, purple clouds turns the water in the river to molten as it dies back for another day. I am struck dumb by the gift of such beauty.
  • Coming around the bend on a summer country road in the deepening time past twilight, and spying a field heavy with fireflies. I stop with my two, young children and whisper that it is the Fairies Ball, and they are dancing with their glowing partners. We sit, spellbound, marveling at their graceful gavotte in the hot, perfumed night air.
  • Lying on my husband’s warm, firm shoulder, hair tickling my cheek, his steady breath raising and lowering my resting head, and the feeling of being safe and cherished and home.
  • Walking down our rutted, dirt lane, the fall air so crisp each deep draught is almost a bite, the sky a shade of blue saved from impossible only by a scattering of high, cotton-candy clouds. My hand clutches the small, soft one of my daughter and my heart is full to bursting. I am almost weeping, trying to memorize the sound of her high voice, the slight dampness of her hand, the wood smoke whiff of a distant fire and the crunch of leaves under our feet. I am thanking God for this here and now, and praying I will be able to bring it back to mind in the many, many years that may come.

These small times of blessing have usually taken me unawares, and left me trying to catch my breath in joy and thanksgiving.

For these and countless other bright, shining little moments in my life, I am deeply grateful.

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  1. January 20, 2012 at 5:37 am

    I love St. Therese. I find her life an inspiration. Thank you for sharing.


    • January 20, 2012 at 8:26 am

      Thanks, Louise. She is truly inspiring, and someone whose example I need to remember.

  2. January 20, 2012 at 5:53 am

    Peg, this is beautiful. As one who knows just how lucky she is (but complains anyway) I find myself thinking I do not, could not, possible deserve all the riches and blessings in my life. Such beautiful words, such appreciation for the little things for which we could all be grateful if we took the time to notice and appreciate. I am so glad you have those things in your life (both big and little)for which to be grateful.

    • January 20, 2012 at 8:28 am

      Thanks so much! As you know, complaining is one of my chief delights, but I try to set aside the whiny me…at least a couple of times each year.

  3. January 20, 2012 at 6:34 am

    This is the first time I’d heard of St. Therese. This is a lovely post, Peg!

    • January 20, 2012 at 8:29 am

      Thank you. Go ahead and check out her life story – it’s really inspiring to think of trying to tackle the daily grind in a loving way. I need to remind myself of this daily!

  4. January 20, 2012 at 7:09 am

    I love the notion of being embarrassed by our riches. So foundational. So true.


    • January 20, 2012 at 8:29 am

      What a great way to put it, Kathy! It is foundational.

  5. January 20, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Nice post, Pegoleg.

  6. Joy
    January 20, 2012 at 10:15 am

    Absolutely! Thank you for this today, I’ve been trying to practice this gratitude every day, as well. Good, bad, beautiful, ugly, big, and small. Fantastic post!

    • January 20, 2012 at 1:39 pm

      I can’t say I practice this every day, because I get annoyed and bothered too easily. I try to appreciate the little things in life, though, between bouts of complaining. 🙂

  7. January 20, 2012 at 10:16 am

    It doesn’t get better than that. Very nice. You are one grounded lady.

    • January 20, 2012 at 1:52 pm

      Thanks Georgette. Now if I can only strive to emulate St. Therese in the Little Way as well. One of my sisters, Mary Kay, is a shining example of that to me. She quietly goes about her life, nurturiing her family and helping others in little, everyday ways.

  8. January 20, 2012 at 11:40 am

    This was absolutely glorious writing, Peg! I had goosebumps, especially reading the last one. Thank you for sharing these with us.

    I often think of a perfect fall day I spent with my son when he was two and I was pushing him on the swing. I wanted to grasp onto that sheer feeling of joy and shove it deep down into my heart for the very reason you mentioned so that I could “bring it back to mind in the many, many years that may come. I am happy to say that I still can, and he’s almost 10.

    Those are The Moments, aren’t they? The simple pleasure of being captivated by the bliss living inside those times in our day where we can open our hearts and be utterly thankful for living.

    • January 20, 2012 at 1:41 pm

      That’s so true and poetic, Darla “those times in our day where we can open our hearts and be utterly thankful for living.” Especially with our kids. Although sometimes, when you’re trapped in the house with them and they’re being hellions it seems like you’ll never be free, in a blink of an eye they’re grown up and gone, and you can never have those precious moments back. I guess all we can do is try, really hard, to remember them.

  9. January 20, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    Beautiful, Peg. Smiles and tears combined. It really is the little things of every day that make life sweeter. Mindfulness of them is ever more important. Thanks for sharing your moments.

    • January 20, 2012 at 2:54 pm

      I have a terrible memory – don’t remember a lot of specifics from childhood, Which is why it was so important to me to try to imprint on my brain that single, perfect fall day with my daughter. While I was experiencing it I was literally near tears trying to capture the input of all my senses in my lousy, mental filing cabinet.

  10. January 20, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Oh yes, the small joys are what provides the magic in my life. Thanks for the reminder.

    • January 20, 2012 at 2:58 pm

      I told my 19-year-old daughter that we are given moments of exquisite happiness in this life, but that most of it is rather mundane and often a very hard struggle. She said thanks for the pep talk mom, now I think I’ll go shoot myself.

  11. January 20, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Beautiful post Peg! Thanks for sharing your story with us. 🙂

  12. January 20, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Deb, thanks for letting Peg share a serious side of herself.
    Peg, this post is beautiful. The humor you typically post comes from a well-grounded and deeply appreciative person. Thank you for showing us this side.

    • January 20, 2012 at 2:59 pm

      Thanks so much. It’s kinda hard to stand here with my feelings hanging out, but all Deb’s readers are so kind, present company definitely included! 🙂

  13. January 20, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Well, Peg, you have me at a disadvantage. I’m used to the casual banter that we enjoy with most of your knee-slapping, ain’t life a hoot, self-deprecating posts. You’ve stopped me dead in my tracks with this thoughtful and poignant reflection of all that the little things that touch our lives daily.

    You’re right, it’s easy to take them for granted until that glint of sunlight off the water catches our eye and wakes up our brain long enough to say, “thanks, that’s beautiful, and I appreciate it.”

    Deborah chose wisely.

    • January 21, 2012 at 8:59 am

      Yeah, I know. No fair changing the rules of engagement in midstream, eh? Thanks, Al.

  14. January 20, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    Wow this is cool, Peg. You’ve reminded me that I have a very little thing I’ve always been very grateful for.

    I walked out into a parking lot once and had to stop in wonder at a perfect double rainbow. It’s the only time I’ve ever seen them perfect like that, with all 6 colors brightly painted twice from one pot of gold to the other. It’s rare enough to see one that bright. I didn’t think two was even possible. While I stared up, the whole sky turned red. Red. A few seconds later, it was gone, just another pretty sunset fading slowly away. There aren’t even words to describe how amazing it was. The two other people in the parking lot could only say the same thing I said, “Did you see that?” I’m so grateful I was in that magic place at that magic moment, to tell them that yes, I did.

    Thanks for your beautiful words, and thanks for the beautiful memory. 🙂

    • January 21, 2012 at 9:01 am

      A moment like that is a gift, and the ability to realize that is another gift. Good for you for knowing enough to imprint that wonderful moment on your brain! (BTW, I don’t think I”ve ever seen a double rainbow – cool!)

  15. January 21, 2012 at 7:03 am

    What a beautiful post, Peg! I’m so happy that I can relate to the ‘small’ moments you described. The way you used words to illustrate their beauty also allowed me to relive them through your eyes, and for THAT I am thankful!

    And I couldn’t agree more with Deb’s spot-on intro.

    • January 21, 2012 at 9:01 am

      Thanks Jules. I need to remind myself of this daily – maybe I should stitch a sampler of it and hang it around my neck?

  16. January 21, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    Such a beautiful post, Peg. When the Funny Lady gets serious, get the tissues out.

    • January 23, 2012 at 7:12 am

      Yeah, my hard, outer shell hides a soft and mushy middle. Kind of like a Cadbury Creme Egg. I’m hungry.

  17. January 23, 2012 at 5:47 am

    Great share!

    • January 23, 2012 at 7:11 am

      Thanks so much. It’s great that Deb hosts this series – she’s practically providing a public service here, isn’t she?

  18. January 24, 2012 at 10:16 am

    And you…and this post are a blessing to me. I'[ve been struggling with: “Why blog? Why spend the time? Why even write?” And the answer comes in a blog. More and more, I realize it’s the “Little Way” that we were created for. We’re all nudging each other toward greater goodness. Thanks for this heartfelt heads up to life.

  19. January 24, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    “I am almost weeping, trying to memorize the sound of her high voice, the slight dampness of her hand…” Great, there goes my eye make-up.

    It’s nice to see you so exposed on a page. Nice work, Peg.

  20. February 14, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    You write beautifully, I loved the melted butter Sun simile, lovely really lovely.

  1. January 20, 2012 at 5:50 am
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