With so much to be grateful for, it’s easy to sometimes overlook the simple stuff. A hot shower, for instance. If you’ve done your share of traveling, you know in many countries, such a luxury is unheard of. Water – and hot water, at that – is something that many of us take for granted, everyday. We turn a dial, and – like magic – there it is. And if it takes too long to warm up, we might even get a little cranky and talk back to it (“come on, come on…heat UP!”).
How often do we take a moment to thank the water for showing up at all?
Yesterday I filmed an interview with British Pagan and religious scholar Graham Harvey, who wrote the book Animism: Respecting the Living World (2006). Animism is the view that all beings (human as well as non-human, that is…think animals, rocks, trees, mountains…and yes, water) are living beings. This worldview is very much alive and seems obvious to many native cultures, and yet somehow, we’ve forgotten.
There are small ways to give gratitude, and begin a much-needed process of remembering. All beings in nature, whether they have a heartbeat or not, are animate subjects, worthy of our acknowledgment and respect.
Try this: Tomorrow morning, take a walk outside (even if it’s raining). As you take a deep breath in, give your thanks to the clean air that’s so willing and available to share itself with you. As you exhale, remind yourself that your breath is giving life to the plants to the right and left of you, and the grass beneath your feet. Those plants are then regenerating the oxygen that you need to continue breathing.
You can continue to thank the birds that are flying above you, the crunch of the autumn leaves rustling on the sidewalk, the squirrels that scurry up the nearest tree. Thank them for being alive, for doing their part to help sustain the ecosystem. (All this might sound a little airy-fairy, but try it anyway. Think of it as actually being as down-to-earth as it gets.)
If you say your thanks out loud, that’s even better. (Don’t worry about getting strange looks from your neighbors.) Sure enough, you may notice that the breeze kicks up and starts rustling the trees, or the birds fly a little closer to you, or crow in your direction. Somehow, nature will respond to you giving thanks – just watch.
When you nurture and cherish what is right before you, it expands before your very eyes. In other words, what you appreciate appreciates.
This goes for water, soil, vegetables – even the Turkey you’re roasting and dressing for dinner. If we take time to recognize and honor all beings in nature (human and non-human), we can begin to see how inter-connected we really are. This is true prosperity.
What are some of the simple things you’re grateful for? How are you showing your gratitude today?