Monday, September 30, 2013

The Snake River on a September Afternoon

Gratitude is my new practice.

The sky is clear, the air fresh, and fall colors creep in, first in the marshy areas and later the hills.  This beauty stops me, grabs my soul and says, "Appreciate the little things, the big beautiful things, the ordinary and extraordinary moments of life."

My new practice comes in part from a deep need for perspective in this fast-paced, divisive world where I live, uneasy and worried.  Part springs from questions I have about humanity, mortality, and loss. Since August, four people we knew and cared about have died:

-a singer-pianist-musician-philosopher whose talent sparkled, 
-a woman passionate about quality education, art and music, 
-an artist who was also a diver and a lover of animals, 
-and one very feisty, funny woman, our colleague in the local schools for many, many years... her children... her husband... her fierce love of family and the right stuff for kids. 

Many others have died, too, at this same time.  They were all important people, unique and loved. Many lived long, productive lives well into their 80's and 90's.  

But, the four I knew were our age, all in their sixties.  

I read wonderful and surprising things about each in the obituaries. They had traveled and studied and done volunteer work when they were young.  One was a Quaker and another had turned to meditation at mid-life.  One was a peace worker and all had grown children and extended families and friends grieving for them.

I think of these four often.  My memories of them seem more real than their absences.  I wonder at the loss, these human lives now gone.   I miss them.  I wonder about those of us left.  I wonder about my own mortality. 

Such questions bring me beyond and yet back to beauty and gratitude and small, little things of everyday life.  

Morning coffee.  A walk to the mailbox.  A smile and wave to people I see on the road.  Cooking supper.  Still being able to touch my toes. Drinking in a fall afternoon in all its glory.  Telling someone how much they mean to me.  

Little things make me very grateful these days.

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