I just had some thoughts recently about gratitude I thought I would share. It came up in the Foundations Studies class I had taken through the Center for Anthroposophy (which I am not continuing with, for various reasons). One of the spiritual principles one is supposed to live by is gratitude.
My family was not really ungrateful, but we did not ever really dwell on gratitude, either. In some ways, though, things were taken for granted. So gratitude was something I have had a lot of curiosity about as I’ve grown up, and something I felt was important to get in touch with.
For a long time, something held me back. At first it seemed like the “I don’t really deserve this” undertones I had always sensed from religious services I had attended when I was a child didn’t appeal to me, but as I thought about it more about it I realized that what really held me back from embracing gratitude was a fear that being grateful for something would make it heartbreaking when it was gone. I was afraid to be grateful for fear I would lose whatever it was, because being happy and enjoying something was an emotional attachment. When I brought this up at the class, the teacher directed me to think about fear, and where it comes from.
But this did not seem right. Thinking about it, I realized it was really a fear of loss and change, not just any fear. And strangely that was made clear to me many years ago when my grandmother who I had been very close with died suddenly. How glad I was that just hours before I had given her a big hug and told her I loved her – two very difficult things for a shy child like me that was not used to being hugged or giving hugs. And even in that I felt a doubt that maybe I had lost her just because the value of our relationship had been expressed.
Reading Elaine Morgan’s book on human evolution, I started thinking about how much things have changed, and how it is change that drives evolution and brought human beings into becoming human. Change is a part of everything, no matter if we pause for just a moment and feel grateful or not. But that pause, that enjoyment and the acknowledgement is important so that we know the gifts and their value to us before they are taken away – because they will be taken away, eventually. Just as I was thinking this the words from the song of Starhawk’s spiral dance came to mind:
“Everything she touches, she changes. Everything she changes, she touches.”
Yes, there is also a divine spark in that change. And think of all the things that could really use some shifting around….