"If you've got gratitude, you've got the whole of the spiritual life." But we have a tendency to complicate things - even the spiritual life. "Keep it simple," AA says. That's good advice.
Some images have the power to elicit from us memories and associations good and bad. I came across this display of zinnias in a Mennonite nursery this spring and was immediately taken back to my boyhood and the first garden I kept which was a sandy 10 X 10 plot behind our suburban home.
Our house was built in the early 1950's on what had been a potato field on Long Island. The good farm-soil had been taken away and all that was left was yellow carpenter's sand. But somehow, zinnia's grew and flowered. I investigated online and even found a picture of the vintage zinnia seed packet I could buy in a catalog for pennies.
Does the picture above bring anything to mind for you - scenes or awareness-es that invite micro-gratitude (gratitude in the details). And where does that take you interiorly? For me...
- Gratitude for the doctor and nurses who were in the room when I was born.
- Gratitude for Miss O'Mara who calmed me down the first day of kindergarten.
- Gratitude for Miss Slomiak who taught me to read.
- Gratitude for Sister Vincent who prepared me for First Communion.
- Gratitude for the Mrs. Balbo who taught us how to identify types of clouds.
- Gratitude for my mother the afternoon she taught me to tie my shoe.
- Gratitude for my father who taught me how to genuflect one night in church.
- Gratitude for my parish which held an outdoor May Crowning each spring.
- Gratitude for Oberlee's Greenhouse which grew long-stemmed carnations for 25 cents.
- Gratitude for the nun who gave me my first paper icon.
- Gratitude for the brass sanctus bells I rang at the Consecration.
- Gratitude for safety the night our family was saved from a terrible car accident.
- Gratitude for the first time I saw the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.
- Gratitude for my first visit to Saint Patrick's Cathedral and lit a candle.
It's said, "Hindsight is 20/20." My childhood and teen years were not idyllic, but this gift of the zinnias in the Mennonite nursery invited me to take a look back and to remember again where God was close in the moments that were beautiful, truthful and good. We might all try it out today.