"With tears and prayers and tender hands, Mother and sisters made her ready for the long sleep that pain would never mar again, seeing with grateful eyes the beautiful serenity that soon replaced the pathetic patience that had wrung their hearts so long, and feeling with reverent joy that to their darling death was a benignant angel, not a phantom full of dread. When morning came, for the first time in many months the fire was out, Jo's place was empty, and the room was very still. But a bird sang blithely on a budding bough, close by, the snowdrops blossomed freshly at the window, and the spring sunshine streamed in like a benediction over the placid face upon the pillow, a face so full of painless peace that those who loved it best smiled through their tears,
and thanked God that Beth was well at last."
Louisa May Alcott, Little Women Chapter 40
I can hardly read this passage from Little Women without weeping myself into dehydration. And it isn't just the sorrow of the scene that gets me---it's the gratitude the March family feels in spite of losing their sweet Beth.
I'm fascinated by gratitude. It's spiritual, it's polite, and it's practical. I've read that grateful people even have increased longevity and improved psychological health. And in a turbulent election year, I'm willing to bet that every American---Republican or Democrat---would shake hands and agree that gratitude is a virtue. No argument there.
Then why am I not more grateful?
Why did I find myself grumbling this morning about the half-chewed pickle on the floor when I should have been thankful that I have a floor and jar of pickles in the fridge and children to chew them in the first place?
Or why did I stand on the scale and moan about my less-than-perfectly-fit body? Why didn't I say a little prayer of thanks instead that my body is healthy and strong?
It seems like wherever I can find fault, I can also find blessings. It's as though the holes in my life are really just windows to see the abundant grace that lies quietly behind it all.
The trick is being willing to see past the holes in the first place.
Gratitude isn't my strength. But I want it to be. So I'm taking a page out of Little Women today and looking for the silver lining in my half-chewed, flabby-thighed life.
Rather than regretting my decision to plant so many fertile pumpkin plants in the garden this year, I decided to round up all the pumpkins that didn't get carved for Halloween and put them to grateful use.
After considering what our family's greatest blessings were, I wrote them down on slips of craft paper with a white-out pen and then hung them on the pumpkins with twine.
Seeing the blessings all in a beautiful row makes me happy. And I guess that is the point.
Happiness is there for the taking.
But sometimes it helps to tie it to a pumpkin stem as a little reminder.
Gratefully Yours Today,
Sharing at . . .
Savvy Southern Style
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
Cedar Hill Ranch
From My Front Porch to Yours
French Country Cottage
Stuff and Nonsense
At the Picket Fence