-the smell of wet concrete
-the brightness of a humming bird's head at the feeder
-trees moving in wind
-looking into Silas and Eden's wide eyes
-the softness of Ben's cheeks above his whiskers
-letters in the mail
I've heard that the antidote to worry is gratitude, which makes sense -- anxiety is the mind ricocheting in the future, and gratitude focuses on the present and gives ground. Today someone even said that thinking of something you're grateful for breaks a bad mood. But after I make these lists, I don't seem to be changed. Where, then, is the power of being thankful, the transformation?
This week I've fumbled my way into experiencing the answer, at least a little. Annemarie, Greg, and their three girls are here for the whole week from DC. The plan was for them to stay here in our bitty one bathroom house for the first two nights and then move down to the neighbor's empty house. But day after day, we keep choosing to stay together. Somehow, the nine of us as one family feels more fun than the nine of us as two neighboring families, even though it's loud, people fight over toys, throw tantrums, and grow broody in need of space (all of which seem to be coming to a head today, of course on the day of thankfulness).
Last night I lay in bed in Eden's bottom bunk grumbling to myself because Ben on the top bunk had gone to bed angry at me for being overly jocular (or as he would have said snide and rude). I'd climbed up to apologize to no avail and now was back alone in the dark. Lying there I still felt the energy of self-justification in my body -- sorry you felt bad when I was joking around. But as I lay there, I began to think about Ben, not about the evening, the remarks, or the fact that this happens to be the time of month when I make sharp remarks, but about Ben, his feeling badly in front of friends, like I was not for him, and then going to sleep alone on the top bunk. Slowly that frantic energy left until it was just me, small in the room of the people I most love. I was grateful for Ben, and sorry, for real, for being a jerk. I climbed back up to the top bunk and woke him again and my words were different -- sorry for being abrasive and inconsiderate, sorry I embarrassed you. This, I think, is real gratitude, gratitude that changes us, pulls us out of our little kingdoms and back into the light of seeing other people and our real thanks.