The privilege of this day

Take a moment from time to time to remember that you are alive. I know this sounds a trifle obvious, but it is amazing how little time we take to remark upon this singular and gratifying fact. By the most astounding stroke of luck an infinitesimal portion of all the matter in the universe came together to create you and for the tiniest moment in the great span of eternity you have the incomparable privilege to exist.

Bill Bryson, 10 Simple Rules for Happiness, Graduate College Commencement Ceremony Address

Appreciate

One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach. One can collect only a few, and they are more beautiful if they are few… My life… lacks this quality of significance and therefore beauty, because there is so little empty space…. There are so few empty pages in my engagement pad, or empty hours in the day, or empty rooms in my life in which to stand alone and find myself. Too many activities, and people, and things. Too many worthy activities, valuable things, and interesting people. For it is not merely the trivial which clutters our lives but the important as well. We can have a surfeit of treasures – an excess of shells, where one or two would be significant.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh, 1906 – 2001, American Writer and Aviator, Author of Gifts of the Sea

Joy in all

 

Probably easier for those, like us in Ireland, who do not have to go to work this morning… Then again, probably a good reminder for those who do.

There is joy
in all:
in the hair I brush each morning,
in the Cannon towel, newly washed,

that I rub my body with each morning,
in the chapel of eggs I cook
each morning,
in the outcry from the kettle
that heats my coffee
each morning,
in the spoon and the chair
that cry “hello there, Anne”
each morning,
in the godhead of the table
that I set my silver, plate, cup upon
each morning.

All this is God,
right here in my pea-green house
each morning
and I mean
though often forget,
to give thanks,
to faint down by the kitchen table
in a prayer of rejoicing
as the holy birds at the kitchen window
peck into their marriage of seeds.

So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.

The Joy that isn’t shared, I’ve heard,
dies young.

Anne Sexton, Welcome Morning

Breathe out gratitude

No, no, there is no going back.
Less and less you are
that possibility you were.
More and more you have become
those lives and deaths
that have belonged to you.

Wendell Berry,  Sabbaths – 1993, I


This poem is not first and foremost about aging and dying. It’s about generosity, one of the most life-giving of all virtues. Generosity does not require material abundance. When I think back on the many people who have been so generous toward me, I never think of money or “things.” Instead, I think of the way they gave me their presence, their confidence, their affirmation, support, and blessing — all gifts of “self” that any of us can give.

And where does generosity come from? Perhaps from another life-giving virtue, the one called gratitude. When I take the time to breathe in my life and breathe out my gratitude for the gifts I’ve been given, only one question arises: “How can I keep these gifts alive?”

I know only one answer: “Become a giver yourself, pass your gifts along, and do it extravagantly!” As Wendell Berry says, “Every day you have less reason/not to give yourself away.”

Parker Palmer, Breathe In My Life, Breathe Out My Gratitude

Celebrate Life

To me, life in its totality is good. And when you understand life in its totality, only then can you celebrate; otherwise not. Celebration means: whatsoever happens is irrelevant – I will celebrate. Celebration is not conditional on certain things: “When I am happy then I will celebrate,” or, “When I am unhappy I will not celebrate.” Celebration is unconditional; I celebrate life.

Osho