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By Sharon Boyles, LCR member

In a dark time, the eye begins to see. ~Theodore Roethke

I have a daily affirmations calendar on my kitchen counter, next to my faerie garden. A recent affirmation was Be Grateful.

A part of me wanted to roll my eyes at this jaded expression, but instead, I challenged myself to dive and delve into what Be Grateful really means.

We’re entering gratitude season, with Thanksgiving right around the corner. We’ll be gathering with our families and friend-families to reflect on the many ways we’ve been blessed this year. A new job. A new grandbaby. A new hobby. Mending an argument with a friend, or a bountiful harvest from the garden. All excellent reasons to be grateful!

But happy experiences are not the entirety of Be Grateful.

It’s super-easy to be grateful for the good things. Not so easy to feel grateful for the traumas and dramas, losses and grief. When a loved one dies or when life goes sideways, it’s difficult to remember that there are tiny sparks of light hidden in that.

But being grateful for the dark stuff is what opens our inner eye to Mystery, to hidden gifts, and to the path that will take us through to the other side. 

This year, I’ve experienced loss after loss. I was laid off from a job that I loved. My parked car was almost totaled by an uninsured driver. I’m seeking a new home, and a person I loved very much suddenly moved to California.

For a while, I didn’t see ANYTHING to be grateful about in any of these situations. In my prayer time, I was saying thanks, but it was a sarcastic, “THANKS A LOT, GOD!”

But the affirmation Be Grateful got me thinking a little differently about things. I got curious. Is there a blessing in the chaos? Is there something to be grateful for in the valley of shadows? I decided to find out. 

Okay, so I was laid off.  I’ve been surrounded by the love and care of so many people during this time. And maybe God is about to open a very new door for me, in a career that will delight my heart.

Okay, so my car was hit by an uninsured driver. I saw it happen and was able to get all the information to follow up with a claim. Also, my insurance company took great care of me.

Okay, so I need to move. I bet God will open up for me a home that is in nature and allows me to be true to myself. 

Okay, so someone I loved moved away. I learned many things during our time together, and, hey, I still “got all my life to live/I got all my love to give”. 

This fun gratitude experiment resulted in a happier heart, a sense of ease, and a renewed sense of possibility and hope. Instead of feeling flattened by these dark gifts, I’m able to rise above them, get a sense of perspective, and decide how to move forward.

This is the art of gratitude. Give it a try!