The Gratitude Jar
It is the middle of February and somehow, every single year, around this time, I begin to feel like the wheel of the organic flow of life sort of, well, stops turning.
All year I meet life with an open heart and connect with the experiences of life, but, for some reason, every February I can remember becomes time to truly and deeply look inward. Some may call it the February BLAHS...I mindfully embrace the opportunity to wander within.
As I look to my greatest teachers in nature, the birds, the trees, the horses, it seems that to them this is a time of focus on simplicity...the simplicity which is their nature. With food not as plentiful or rich, and with inclement weather forcing them to seek shelter, this is a time where they are very obviously fully present with self care. There is a silence in the forest so dense that I can hear the footsteps of the tiniest creature. The past few days, while out and about running errands and traveling to and from my son's school, something stood out at me. Each day I had seen an owl. One day it was in flight, one day it was eating its prey and today it was sitting on the branch of a large tree, resting. Not only did this really reveal to me the simplicity of life (eat, pray, love....lol or in this case fly, prey, rest lol) but the synchronicity of it all resonated with me in such a way that I had to pull out my "Animal Speaks" book as soon as I got home to see if the owl had a further "message" for me. To add to the "coincidence", I was even wearing a shirt with an owl print on it today! I open the book to the owl section and these were the words that spoke to me
"meditate in silence and in darkness each evening....this is a particularly ripe period to tap into the fount of intuitive wisdom that's available to you...quietly observe your environment, watching and listening for signs that will give you answers to questions you may have."
Everything in life comes in cycles. There is a time for everything. There is a time for sound, there is a time for silence. There is a time for play, there is a time for reflection. There is a time for connection, there is a time for contemplation. There is a time to bloom, there is a time to sleep. There is a time for light, there is a time for dark. There is a time to seek wisdom from outside, there is a time to seek wisdom from within.
In these times of truly facing myself head on, embracing all that I see in my reflection, I am reminded by my own inner teacher to fully accept this person who stands before me and take this time of silence to practice the single most important and powerful attitude. The attitude of gratitude. The attitude that is necessary, not only in times of silence, but all the time!
To diligently take time each and every day to say, write, honor the blessings and gifts we experience in our hearts. These blessings and gifts are not in the form of materialistic things (though we are thankful for those too) but the true gifts are those that come as an experience of the heart. A kind word or gesture from a stranger, compassion from a partner or friend, the sparkle in the eye of a child, a quiet connection to nature.
We have a mason jar in our home called "The gratitude jar". The gratitude jar makes its way around our home on various special occasions or gatherings, where we all openly honor each other and the gifts we experience in each of our lives. Today, I have placed the jar beside me with little pieces of blank paper ready for more and more gratitude to be expressed from my spirit. The jar is almost full, but every time I sit at my desk, I move the little papers to create space for more gratitude. Every so often, I dump some of the contents of the jar in front of me and smile as I sift through the little pieces of white paper with hearts and peace signs accompanying the words on them when asked "what are you grateful for?". Words that were written from a place so warm and thankful that the paper almost feels warm to the touch. Then I see one piece of paper that stands out to me. It is in a child's writing. The words are small and a bit squiggly and say, "Spending time with mama" with a little heart drawn beside them. These tender words were written by my son during his moment standing before the gratitude jar. Tears of joy and appreciation begin to make their way down by cheeks, for in this little jar, are a million reminders that the time for gratitude is not only during times of hardship or times of silence, but in every single moment of this experience we call "life".
In the flow of my joyful tears it is revealed to me that the organic flow has not stopped at all just because there are less clients or less social activity during this last hurrah of the winter season. The cycle of life cannot possibly always be busy and blooming, bursting with sunlight. This short time in the stillness of the silence has presented a necessary and organic opportunity to just be here now with the gratitude jar.
As I sit and smile, wrapping myself in the warmth of each and every piece of paper with words, hearts and peace signs, I feel supported by the wise owl and its messages of embracing the silent darkness. For in this darkness, I have experienced the brightest and warmest of all light that couldn't have ever been recognized under the rays of the sun.
I am truly thankful for the wheels that stopped turning to hold space for this moment where my entire body is filled with the love and light of gratitude.