Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gratitude: The Forgotten Key

There is something lovely about autumn. The days are crisper and there is a sense of purpose in the air. I enjoy the fall color and the gently falling leaves. I breathe deeply. I smell change.

As I watch the leaves fall, I ponder change. I wonder about the future. I look inside myself and enjoy the stillness. I step softly into my heart and take inventory. I embrace my gifts and examine my baggage. It is a good time for letting go.

What will I let go of this autumn? Some of my baggage is old and familiar. Shall I be done with it, at last? Is it time to move on? Can I let it go, like softly falling leaves, and allow it to gather at my feet, where I can sweep it up and carry it out?

Can I let go of judgement? Deceit? Bitterness? Self-Pity? Resentment? Anger? Can I let go of pain? Some thoughts have lodged in my heart for so long, they seem like family. Who would I be without these guests? Guests are they, or perhaps intruders?

I examine each piece of baggage, each intruder, and wonder why I have kept it close for so long. In the corners of my heart I find hidden containers. Secrets. Do I know them?

Inferiority. Not good enough. Not smart enough. Not pretty enough. No one likes me. It’s too late. I never… I always… How long have those bags been hidden in my heart? Who put them there?

Not I. Surely not I. Have I just been storing them, then, til someone claims them? Let them fall. I shake my inner tree and let them go.

I sweep the corners and gather the dust of loneliness, the cobwebs of despair, the skeletons of self-judgement, the bones of isolation.

Autumn feels good. With joy, I release things that no longer serve me. I let them go. I sweep up the leaves of yesterday and carry them out.

So much garbage. Did I get it all? Maybe not, but there is more room in my heart now. Room for shiny new gifts. Room for a jar of love, a box of forgiveness, a sack of friendship. Room for a cup of kindness, a tin of tolerance, and a can of cooperation.

With the baggage gone, I see a door that I didn’t noticed before. It was hidden behind the intruders. The word PEACE is painted on the door in pretty script. What lies behind that door ? A closet? A hallway? An adventure? The door is locked. I search for a key. There it is hanging from a ribbon on a nail. The key is ornate, the ribbon delicate, and it is labeled gratitude.

Gratitude is the key.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

I turn the key and enter. It’s not a hallway or a closet. It’s a beautiful room. Silently, it speaks the word on the door. It whispers peace.

The room is lovely. Fresh flowers grace the table. A fire crackles in the fireplace. The walls are decorated with things I love, meaningful art and pictures of things I am grateful for. I see faces of family and friends. I see happy memories frozen in time. These are precious gifts.

I explore this comfortable room. I sit at the piano and caress the keys lovingly. A tender melody flows from my grateful fingers. The music of my heart fills the stillness with gratitude. The gift of music sweetens my life.

I am drawn to the bookshelf where I notice my favorite books are mingled with some I have never read. I touch each one, feeling gratitude for the power of words. I am delighted that there are always new words to read. My fingers rest lovingly on the scriptures. I am grateful for the words of life.

Light filters in through a single window. I stand at the window and gaze at a charming garden alive with gracious plants. I throw open the window to breathe in the colors of life--the colors of gratitude. I find joy in this garden.

Inside this cozy room I become aware of my gifts, which are many. They bring meaning and enjoyment into my life. They bring me peace. I gather these gifts in my arms and carry them close to me, as I move toward the fire.

There is a mirror above the fireplace. As I look into the mirror, I am surprised to see not one, but two faces reflected there. I see my own face, and also the face of my Savior. I see that His life is woven together with mine. I see that His love and support makes my life meaningful. Gratitude swells within my heart.

A comfortable chair waits for me in front of the fire of love. It is inviting and has embroidery on the back. I trace the stiches with my fingers. At first the words are difficult to read, but as the fire tosses light onto the chair and fills the room with love, the words become clearer.

I can read the words now. Remember Who You Are. What a gift.

It’s a beautiful chair. I think I’ll sit a while.

Linda Garner

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