On Gratitude

William James Ward captured my current sentiments so well when he said, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

Dandelion wishes on the Willamette River / Salem, OR

Dandelion wishes on the Willamette River / Salem, OR

Yesterday I gave flowers to family members for my birthday and it was one of the best ways I could have spent the day. It was a perfect way to transmute what I was feeling into something beautiful worth sharing. I surprised my father at work and got to spend a bit of time with him in the middle of his day. My father is the strongest and toughest man I know. I will never forget the Father’s Day many years ago when he told my sister and I that he and everybody, regardless of their gender, enjoys receiving flowers. We had originally hesitated to buy him flowers (the first bouquet we would ever give him), but in a stroke of inspiration we both agreed that the man who was always giving flowers to everyone else might also appreciate receiving them for once. So we bought them, and we gave them to him, and he loved them. Then he shared that wisdom with us and I have never hesitated to give anyone flowers since. Because if the most heroic man in my life likes getting flowers then surely we were on to something right and true.

Next I drove to my grandparents’ house and gave them flowers. The flowers, by the way, were a beautiful spring mix of coral pink tulips, and pale yellow and violet pink ranunculus. I chatted with both of them for a while and ate a few squares of their chocolate bar and generally behaved like any other grown-up might around their beloved grandparents that continue to spoil them (rotten).

I eventually left grandma and grandpa and drove out to my mom’s and step-dad’s house. I left flowers for her in the kitchen to come home to then drove down to where their property meets the Willamette River. I offered flowers to the Willamette which has been such a nourishing presence throughout most of my life. I was born and raised along this river, and the water and silt from this valley has fed me in countless ways. It was time I gave something back. I watched the flowers float away and realized they weren’t the only thing I had to let go of in order to honor a sense of flow in my life.

Finally, I drove to my sister’s house for my final delivery. She and her husband made dinner (which we had planned), and she surprised me with a dinner party with our grandparents (which only some of us had planned). How sneaky! After a delicious and heart-warming meal, I then visited some friends who helped me turn over the ground of my heart and spoiled me with a second dessert- Ban-offee, from Screen Door.

So there we have it: a cycle of scarcity and abundance come full circle. Transform the gunk and debris, the grief and ugliness into something you feel proud to share. Keep chipping away. Give it away and let it go because nothing is ours to keep forever. More will come back to you than you expected and in ways you hadn’t planned. Therein lie the blessings and the reason for gratitude.

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One response to “On Gratitude

  1. I will take my beautiful flowers from you and take them down and place them in our river of life tomorrow. You have totally embraced what I have strived to teach you, my beautiful child, with these words that have poured out of your heart. you are blessed and loved so much by everyone! I love you

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