On Gratitude

So much hurt in the world these days, friends. So much violence. We read the news or turn on the radio and we get sandbagged by it, its heft. And there’s guilt, too, at how lucky we are to be in a place where, in this moment in time, the violence isn’t happening directly to us.

I don’t know about you, but there have been days lately where I’ve caught myself wondering what I can possibly do in the face of all that darkness. I mean, I speak up. I fight back when I see people treated unequally and make my presence felt when I know I can be a witness for others. But what do you do against guns, against people who have been unhinged by their own pain?

For myself, I’m fighting back in the best way I know how. Gratitude.

Sometimes it feels as though all I have to pitch against the impossibly hard things is a bit of light and beauty. And that’s all the shield I’ve got.

Two of my friends recently challenged me on Facebook to follow up on a post I wrote about Sweet Thing of the Day. It was meant to be a one-off, a small gift of beauty to friends online, but their challenge made me think deeply about presence. We’re surrounded by amazing wild land here at the farm, but some days, with the hurt and fear in the news, I find myself thinking, what on earth can I hold up against that pain? Looking for one good thing, no matter what the day brings at home or abroad, is teaching me a lot about gratitude.

A few things caught me today, and I thought I’d pass them on to you. Little gifts.

The dahlias are coming into their own in the flower garden for the first time. The land has often been too cold for them in the past, but this one summer, they’re thriving, and we’re grateful for their magical and uncanny presence. I tucked a few into a vase today with some deep blue delphinium, Huron wheat, and Painted Lady sweetpeas as a gift for loved ones. The way dahlias hold the light is a small gift in itself – they just glow.

A little oasis of calm: the patio and flower garden at the edge of our big market garden at the farm. This (below) is what the place looked like when we first got the market garden started; we’ve come a long way in a few years!

And the lilies are out along the market garden fence. We planted half a hundred bulbs there in the early spring, and the Asiatics have just begun to bloom. The Oriental lilies and the Trumpets will be out later in August, filling the garden with perfume on still nights.

Yesterday evening, I had a good conversation with one of our resident moose while she was browsing willows on one side of the fence and I was watering dahlias on the other. She finished her supper, and Thomas and I watched while she wandered down to the pond for a cool-down and a drink. I’ve never heard a moose groan in contentment before! It had been a scorching hot day, and I bet that water felt really good. And then there was the young doe Thomas spotted outside the cabin this morning. In all likelihood, she was this youngster who grew up in the forest meditation garden this spring:

I don’t know what to offer most days but small bits of beauty. It’s the only way I know of striking back.

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