The month of November holds many different themes: saints, souls, veterans, and of course, Thanksgiving. Each year as the season of autumn surrounds us with colorful leaves on trees, and farmers harvesting their crops, I am reminded of my teaching days and the reading of Winnie-the-Pooh to my second graders. There is a quote from A.A. Milne which has stuck with me over the years. It is this: “Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”
Gratitude–my gratitude over the years has sometimes felt very small–much like Piglet’s. But as I age, a deep sense of gratitude seems to have come over me, and there are so many moments of grace that expand my heart and touch the core of my soul now. Living with an attitude of gratitude allows one to look at life differently and approach it with a more openhearted, generous, and even joyful spirit.
Many years ago a Sister in my community told me that she kept a “gratitude journal” and would write in it each night at least one thing for which she was grateful. It might have been a very simple gesture–a smile or a hug–that someone gifted her with that day. So a few years back I decided to start keeping my own gratitude journal. For me it was a way of noticing the smallest graces of the day and it actually nurtured my own awareness and shifted my approach to life. It invited me to open my small heart and come to understand that I, too, could “hold a rather large amount of gratitude.”
Thanksgiving thoughts conjure up time to be with family and friends and perhaps gather round a table of plenty. To recall loved ones’ gifts of time, memories, favorite recipes, and good food. But Thanksgiving is really more than just a day…it is a way of being, of living each moment to the fullest. Maybe you’ll even begin your own “gratitude journal.” Or be more attuned to all the small moments of grace that come your way.
Wherever your Thanksgiving Day takes you, may your small heart expand so you feel connected to something bigger than yourselves, and the deep joy that gratitude brings overflow in your life.
Barbara McMullen, CDP