by Laura Passard Yurko
"If the only prayer you ever say in your life is "thank you," that would suffice." - Meister Eckhart
Honestly, I'm not a big pray-er. I want to be, but I'm just not. My prayers are often rushed - a quick, one sentence request for safety or clarity. But recently a shift occurred in my life.
I started attending the OLQA Moms Group in February and immediately found myself feeling fulfilled. I had found what I had been looking for even though I couldn't have named it before I came to the group. I just felt complete. And so, every thursday when we shared our intentions during our opening prayer I said a silent prayer of thanks for the women of the group and all those who came before us who created this nurturing space. However, away from Moms Group I found myself in a habit of always coming up short. Nothing was good enough, least of all me: Ugh, that pile of laundry is still there and getting bigger; C ate cheese and crackers for dinner - I'm a terrible mother; I'm a SAHM but that doesn't mean I can't be accomplished or interesting so I'll work on this one thing but C just wants to be held. Why is my kid so clingy? It must be because I'm a terrible mother (yeah, that one pops up a lot). I came to wonder: Why am I finding so many reasons to complain when I know my life is filled with reasons to rejoice? And, What can I do about it?
Remember in the 90's when Oprah was all big on Gratitude Journals? I had one. I tried so hard to come up with 5 things to be grateful for each day and always came up short. Then I felt bad for failing at Gratitude Journaling. Well, this time around I decided I would just be grateful for one thing each day. One. I can do that, right?
For me it started with Moms Group. I was so grateful for the opportunity to be with these other mothers who shared my parenting struggles and triumphs and who were also interesting and accomplished in their own right. Women who were supportive, not competitive, who wanted me to succeed at being the best mom, Catholic mom, that I could be. I mean, talk about something to appreciate!
But, you know what?
Some days I'm grateful for the dishwasher.
And so I say so. I say a little prayer of thanksgiving for the dishwasher which took care of the pots and pans and bowls and knives I used to prepare healthy meals for my family. Oh, and hey, there's another thing - I know how to prepare healthy meals for my family and had the resources to do so. Oh, and by the way, thank you for those resources. Also, thank you for this home we live in, for the job my husband has, that he does his job well and supports me and C...that I get to be here to hold C when she needs me....that I recognize the importance of paying attention or an extra cuddle...I'm a good mom after all...that there are cheese and crackers available to feed her when making a full meal isn't a priority...that my child doesn't go to bed hungry...that she has a bed to sleep in...that she's here with us at all. In no time, what begins as a droplet of appreciation for an appliance turns into an entire ocean of gratitude in my heart just waiting to be noticed.
That ocean fills me with such peace that I find that my days are spent being more open. I'm open to the opportunities in my life, to the people in my life and to God's presence in my life. I can be more present for those times when I'm called to act or console or share. That isn't to say that my feelings don't get hurt or that I'm never in a bad mood - because that happens, it's a part of life. It's just that now, because that ocean of gratitude rests steadily in my heart, I'm able to process those more difficult moments as isolated incidents instead of adding them to an existing deficit.
I encourage you to try it - try to see your life as a series of pluses instead of minuses. Say "thank you" for just one thing each day and see if you can't tap in to your own ocean of gratitude.
Reflections inspired by our weekly faith sharing and fellowship.