Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

Brother David Steindl-Rast, Benedictine monk and well-known speaker on gratefulness as spiritual practice, teaches that there is a direct link between joy and gratefulness.

He has written that “the root of joy is gratefulness … It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”

And David goes on to add, “We are never more than one grateful thought away from peace of heart.”

To practice gratitude or appreciative discernment, call to mind your appreciation for someone you know, a family member or a friend. Or think of a trip you took, a time when you had the privilege of being generous, a place in nature.

Today I’m grateful for you, my friends, my connected ones who follow my blog and take heart from my posts. It is my delight that we are connected in this way. My goal is to serve you tasty word meals. I enjoy knowing that you, like me feast on truth.

Today’s post is your amuse bouche, your bite-sized hors d’œuvre served gratis and according to me, your truth chef.

Eat up, chomp down on your appreciation for the good in your life.

Then breathe in and out your gratefulness to God.

Gratitude lies in minutiae.

Yesterday, I dug a splinter out of my finger — better.

Yesterday, I painted the downstair’s bathroom, good. I ate chocolate covered peanuts and hired a plumber to fix a problem I couldn’t. Small holds the rank of swank. I also fed the cats. I consider everything as if it counts because it does.

In the evening, I was thankful for rock ballads, and spent time listening to “Always” by Bon Jovi, “Forever Love” by X Japan and “Wind of Change” by Scorpions.

The big picture is confusing to me. Is it to you? My daughter has some big decisions to make, but sometimes I think we only know that we made the right big decision, or were led, or had wisdom, when looking back. That’s fun!

Yesterday, I did the laundry and so today I have clean clothes. Cool! I knew I was doing the right thing when I did it, as we often do with the small stuff.

“Thank you.”

This morning I am relaxing, strenuously, with coffee. That is correct. Good!


“You are so kind!”

The smallest — it is the greatest, our mightiest moment, this quick and quarky nanosecond’s “is.”

I had coffee with my friend Dennis today.

His life is good, and sometimes a bit tough, as life is apt to be. Dennis recently retired from a long, very successful music teaching career. He has a long successful marriage, he has a beautiful, successful, loving daughter, he has a wonderful grandson. Dennis told me that he has no bucket list. He has done so much, lived so fully. He’s good to go!

But Dennis is coping with NF2, and he is losing his hearing, slowly, which is hard for a musician, and he is enjoying life on the terms that it comes to him now — somewhat limited — the best he can.

Dennis told me today, “I’m working on being grateful.” I’m impressed!

He is also considering designing an online class on using iPads in music education.

I like that too.

There are so many ways of responding to life, of getting along with what we don’t want to get along with, of ciphering life, of doing the math, the pluses and minuses of career and health and success and family.

People are resilient! I see that all the time. And they are smart and creative and brave and wise and full of the kind of imagination that thrives in difficulty!

Thinking of this, I wrote a fable about a man, who didn’t have a family, so he made one up! I love this man!


Once there was a man named Santino who didn’t have a family — so he made one up.

“Maya”, he said to his wife, “would you mind getting me a piece of the cake you made today?”

“Certainly,” she replied. He got up and got himself some cake.

“Yosef,” he said to his son, let me see your homework. Ah, you are doing a paper on the sociology of interracial intimacy. One thought is that you focus on the varying interpretations of father craft within these families.”

He pulled out his tablet and looked up several websites on the sociology of fatherhood within the bourgeois family.

“Interesting,” he said to himself, “the pervasive maternal dominance when it come to parenting.”

“Lilit,” he said to his daughter, “If you and your sister Saki would like, I will take you out this evening to get ice cream.”

That evening he went out and got himself an ice cream. He sat alone eating it.

“Saki,” he said to his youngest daughter, looking up from his ice cream. “How are you doing with that boy at school, the one who told you he liked you.”

He sat quietly for a moment. Another family sat quietly nearby.

“Well,” he said gently, “this can be quite sensitive. I wouldn’t say that to him, but it would be best to be honest. You don’t want to lead him on, give him false hope. That isn’t kind. It’s important in life to be honest, but not too honest, if you know what I mean?”

Santino looked up. The nearby family — a father, mother son and two daughters — were all staring at him.

He looked at them, and catching the father’s eye, said in a clear voice. “The fathering, it just never seems to end, does it?”

The other father, not knowing what to say, looked down.

Santino, looking around the room, smiled, and said to himself, “I just love being a father.”


I love Santino!

He was a father, a natural father, a good father, one capable of the acceptance of great diversity — an international father — a real father who didn’t get a chance to be a father — and there is a sadness in that for me — and yet he was indeed a father beyond ordinary fathers.

Santino was a great father to his imaginary international family!

I wonder about Santino and so many others like him. Why didn’t he get the opportunity to live out his identity? I don’t know. I made him up, and still I don’t know.

It happens all the time, the Santinos, living with their dreams deferred, their desires unfulfilled. And yet, like my friend Dennis, so many of the semi-blessed, partially blessed, and even the unblessed are doing very well. They, like Santino, are very grateful, on some very deep unfulfilled level, for who they are.

I wonder. I wonder what do we do when we don’t get to do all that we might have done, when illness, disability or circumstance don’t allow it?

This is hard, and yet, we I can see through Dennis and Santino, that we may yet thrive!

If we are grateful for what we have been given, even more profoundly, if we are grateful or who we are, and can image that, affirm that, act that out in any way possible, even when the rest of the world doesn’t see or know that, even when that doesn’t look like what we once hoped it would look like, then we are indeed blessed.

By the way, if you enjoyed the fable of Santino, you can find more of my fabulistic literature at

Lately I’ve taken special note of  my appreciatives, my approbatories, my applaudables, and also those small salvific islands of gratitude lurking along the waterways of my supra-conciousness.

I make a grocery list of them. 1. I like being male.  2.I like being married. 3. I like being comedic.

These idiosynratic commendatories are my cognitive Jacanas, the colorful water birds living on my cerebral Lake Nicaragua, and I watch for them as I round the corners of my mental islands,  putting along in my smoking, psychic motor boat, and I flush them out when I can — my favorables. I exult when they run on the tops of the lily pads on my everyday perspectives.

Dr. Christine Carter, excecutive director at the Greater Good Science Center at University of California Berkeley says her research shows that the more we practice gratitude the happier we will actually be. She suggests keeping a gratitude journal.

I respect Dr. Christine, and I appoint her my mentor, and in my mind, I mind her counsel and keep a mental journal of my gratefulness. I prop it up on the back shelf of  my short-term memory and work it over. I  listify my thankfuls, lining them up, one, two and three.  1. I am thankful for my black  glossy cats with their ulta-soft, outrageously fluffy furification. 2. I am thankful for my wife, particularly her drop-dead gorgeous cerebral cortex and the droll and wry desultory three-storied thoughts housed therein 3.  And I like my hazelnut coffee with milk every 6 am.

I love these and all of my other precious gratitudes. They are my safety nets, hanging above the lower levels of my extreme dissatisfactions.  They are my psychological floaties; they keep me from drowning in my own deep waters;  they are my sport’s brain seat belts, clamping me in my as I accelerate hard out of all my life’s sharp corners.

I  trot them out often, my idosyncratic applaudables.  1. I like my house, the big windows and the odd angles of the high ceilings. 2. I like my two daughters, particularly the way the call me “daddy” and sit close to watch TV or just talk  3.  I adore my job, the taylor-made, custom-designed, hyper-precise fit of it. 4. I love God and the way he loves me back and  how he is so outrageously gentle, patient and gracious with me. 5. I like my pain, and how it eloquently informs me about being human.

By laying out my admirables like this, I anchor what I are grateful for in my brain. These positives, these pluses, these commemoratives — they moor me. When I don’t like something about my job, I  coounter that with something I do like about my job. My thankfuls act like my very own team of counter-insurrgents against negativity. I don’t like my work stress, but I do love my work challenges, and so I embrace them, and I go on this way, cloaked with strength.

What will happen tomorrow? I think that more good will happen tomorrow, and if it does not, then I will roof over my losses with a thick thatch of approvables , and this is how I will survive, and shelter my happiness.

I will be thankful.