Take A Moment To Be Grateful

Posted: July 18, 2014

Rural Pen

In this mad, mad, mad post-recession world, there is still so much for which to be thankful.

As I get out of bed, no part of my body — not even the foot plagued for years by plantar fasciitis — has any pain. The glory does not go to anti-inflammatory drugs or pain killers; it is all grace. But even if I did need medicine to subdue pain, that too would be grace.

At the kitchen sink, I turn on the faucet and out flows clean, clear water. I fill the pot for tea.

Tea! A subject all its own. It is whatever you need it to be. It wakes you up or calms you down, provides refreshment or respite. For water and for tea, I am grateful.

At my desk, the rising sun sparkles through the maple trees outside my north-facing window, transforming the leaves into emeralds.

Birds gaily twitter the morning news. I wonder what they are saying? Squirrels dash madly about, up trunks, out onto branches, jumping from treetop to treetop. I wonder what they are doing?

Though there are times of discontentment — I wish to live in a Brooklyn neighborhood, or in an English village, or back on the Long Island shore — I also realize how I would so miss these rural mornings. I tell myself, “You only feel like you want to move away. Feelings can be deceptive.”

The view out the east window, which I face, is filtered by a lilac bush. Often, throughout the day, visitors perch there. These days, it’s usually a female cardinal.

This morning, the air is dry and cool. Here it is, the middle of July, and we in the sultry South get a break from summer’s heat and humidity — a gift for which I am grateful.

Many victims of the Great Recession no longer enjoy the luxuries they once took for granted, such as memberships at the gym, annual vacations, concerts and eating out. Even the gas and entrance fee to spend a day in a national park is prohibitive for many.  

Although we are referred to as consumers, I know secretly in my heart of hearts — especially on mornings such as this — that I was not created for consumption. None of us was.

If, as Rabbi Abraham J. Heschel writes, “Indifference to the sublime wonder of living is the root of all sin,” then there is nothing like living in a consumer culture to seduce us to plastic hell. We are accosted on every website, billboard and magazine page with photos of happy, rich celebrities, sleek in their photoshopped glory.

Nothing in me wants to be a consumer. It’s not that I don’t want anything, but at this stage of my life, time is the commodity about which I care.

As the priest, poet and philosopher, John O’Donohue, used to say, “It is so much, just being here.”

Whether I spend my time at a city restaurant or on my back deck with family does not matter. As long as I’m not wasting it like disposable income, as if I had all the time in the world.  

“Every hour is unique and the only one given at the moment, exclusive and endlessly precious,” Heschel writes.

As long as I am grateful.

Luanne Austin lives in Mount Sidney. Contact her at RuralPen@aol.com, on Facebook or care of the DN-R

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