A friend recently sent me a link to an amazing TED talk by Brother David Steindl-Rast. It’s called “Want to be Happy? Be Grateful” (link below). Maybe you’ve seen it, but let me tell you about it anyway!
In this talk, Brother David reminds us of something that we don’t ponder too often, which is that neither you, nor I, nor anyone we know, has brought about this very moment. It’s just here. And we get to experience it, my friend, as something bestowed on us from the endless Creativity at the heart of the universe. Right now. Pure, sheer, gift. And the gift won’t always be there. Countless beings have blipped on and off of the screen of existence, and you and I will too, but we haven’t yet, and, uh, holy cow, let’s just stop and be a tiny bit mindblown by that.
When you remember that every moment is a gift, you become aware that we swim in a never-ending sea of opportunity. “Opportunity is the gift within every gift,” says Brother David. Within this realization is an invitation to avail ourselves. Availing ourselves of the opportunity to enjoy and be thankful for the gift of now.
Can we be grateful for everything? No. I’m not grateful for genocide, for pandemics, for racism, for child abuse. But in everything, we can avail ourselves. Open arms, bright eyes, welcoming smile. Hello right now, however dark you are, what is your opportunity? What is on offer? A chance to respond with love and wisdom? A chance to fight for something better? A chance to relax and trust? A chance to admire beauty? A chance to take back life in the face of loss, illness, abandonment, exclusion, failure, alienation, injury, exploitation, death?
Availing yourself. Being there for the opportunity. Stopping. Observing. Responding. That’s what it’s about. That’s how gratitude is lived forth. That’s also how joy roots down deep, oh so deep, in the human heart.