Your body is always looking at the planet through its five physical senses. It never looks beyond the planet. It looks at physical action only. … You find living here easier and a lot more fun when you respond to the planet and nature as you are designed to do. You understand that experience is here to increase your awareness at a certain point and for a certain reason. Gregge Tiffen (Learning Without Experience Is A Bell Without a Clapper – September, 2008)
If the only prayer you said was ‘thank you’, that would be enough. Meister Eckhart
It’s often said ‘the reason is love’. In this week of two ‘novel’ experiences, my reason is gratitude, feeling grateful and expressing my thanks.
The two experiences were vastly different, each novel in its own way. The first was a project occurring over several days with concentrated focus for a few hours each day. It was planned and orderly with the beginning, purpose and completion clearly defined at the outset. The second experience was an event that occurred instantly, no advance planning and ending in less than a minute.
The project was ‘novel’ because I was reviewing the manuscript of a yet to be published novel. The event was novel because it was a first for me: a tree falling in the woods within arm’s-length of where I was standing. Only in hindsight do I connect them beyond the word ‘novel’. Upon reflection, I see how each brought me to gratitude.
The project, being a beta reader for the forthcoming sequel to Rivera Sun’s fabulous novel, The Way Between, brought to awareness my gratitude for writers and activists who, like Rivera, are on the ‘front lines’ of change, working tirelessly to manifest social justice, equality, and non-violence in these times lacking all three. I’m grateful too for the opportunity to support this work doing something that I enjoy.
The falling tree gifted me with an instant of simultaneously not knowing whether Luke and I would be alive in the next moment AND absolutely trusting that we would.
The adventure started with an afternoon break, heading out for a short hike on a beautiful, calm afternoon. We’d reached our ‘turn-around’ point and were about to head back down the trail when I heard the unmistakable (though I’d never heard it before) sound of a tree cracking, breaking, about to fall. With no time to think, I made and executed two snap decisions – don’t call Luke and get face-down on the ground. In the next instant, I felt a thud as the tree hit the ground. Realizing that it hadn’t hit me, I called for Luke. He appeared quickly, a bit shaken (heck, we both were!), but otherwise just fine.
“Thank you!” I repeated several times, thinking in that moment only that both of us were safe. But as we walked back – on a road, not the trail - my shakiness gave way to a deeper, expansive gratitude. I felt gratitude to be alive in this body, on this planet, at this time, as well as gratitude for all life in all forms, formlessness, and infinity.
This week and beyond, may I not forget gratitude. May I feel it, and remember to say a heartfelt ‘thanks’.