Wonderment and Gratitude

  Wonderment and Gratitude

Discussion date: Thu, Nov 25, 2010 at our weekly Thursday evening practice

Dear Still Water Friends,

Warm Thanksgiving wishes.

We won’t have our Thursday evening gathering this week, but everything else at Still Water goes on as usual this holiday week. Please join us for our Wednesday morning sittings in Silver Spring and Chevy Chase, our Thursday morning sitting in Takoma Park, our Friday morning sitting and breakfast in Silver Spring, and our Sunday evening gathering in Columbia.

I’ve always like Thanksgiving because of its inclusivity and its simple message of gratitude. In the reading below, M. J. Ryan reminds us that gratitude springs from wonderment.

May you and yours be well, happy, and peaceful this Thanksgiving.

Mitchell Ratner
Senior Teacher


Practice Wonderment
by M. J. Ryan, from Attitudes of Gratitude

Oh, for the wonder that bubbles
into my soul.

– D. H. Lawrence

Recently I had the pleasure of accompanying my friend and her one-year-old daughter to the zoo for the first time. Her eyes almost popped out of her head when she saw an elephant. And when I gave her her first scoop of ice cream, her joy knew no bounds. Her little body wriggled, her eyes sparkled, and she brought out the biggest smile. The truth is elephants are amazing creatures, and ice cream is just as delicious the one-thousandth time as the first. But we adults have lost our wonderment, and so we can’t appreciate elephants and ice cream as much.

In wonderment, children are our greatest teachers. Wonder is a natural state, one that we often lose track of as we become numb to life. Since wonderment is the willingness to be surprised by life, and gratitude springs from wonderment, to practice gratefulness we need to let life surprise us, with a glorious sunset, a luxurious back rub, a mysterious phone call, or the kindness of a stranger. The problem with adulthood is that we become jaded. Oh yes, another great sunset, another fabulous dinner, another birthday present.

We can recapture our sense of wonderment at any moment. All it takes is to open our senses and let the world come into us anew. Try it for one minute. First listen to the sounds around you…perhaps an airplane is overhead. Isn’t it amazing that airplanes can fly? It doesn’t seem possible. What kinds of scents are in the air? I can smell Jasmine. Isn’t it amazing that so many flowers have such distinctive scents?

Now turn to your sense of sight. Really notice what’s around you…the grain in the oak door, the black letters against the white page, the bright yellow bananas in the bowl. Isn’t it amazing that you can see? Isn’t it fascinating to wonder if everyone can see yellow the same way as you? Isn’t it marvelous that you can have a banana even though they grow thousands of miles away?

We can touch wonder in every moment as we slow down and perceive the world around us as if for the first time. And when we contact wonder, we know thankfulness for the most ordinary, extraordinary things of life.

 

Discussion Date: Thu, Nov 25, 2010


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