Pausing for gratitude

By Marilyn Neagley

I had turned toward home after taking a walk on what had been a spectacular November day. The light was sharp and clear, the air warm yet refreshing. I glanced over my shoulder at the setting sun and, in that same moment, noticed a half moon above. The wonder and beauty of it all brought a smile to my face and reminded me of the power of gratitude.

I recalled an experience during a special course for teachers. Each person was asked to adopt a daily practice that encouraged a deeper sense of presence and self-calming.  There were 20 participants in the course and each had crafted a uniquely personal idea.  One particular teacher reported that every day she awoke, graded papers, made breakfast and packed lunches for her family. By 9:30 am, when standing in front of her students, she was already thoroughly exhausted. She described the students as “giving her nothing” in the way of interest and attention.

The practice she designed was to grade papers the night before. In doing so she was able to carve out time and space in the morning to sit by a window, sip a cup of tea and reflect on all that she appreciated in that moment.

To her amazement, the “glass became half full,” she was more energized for teaching and her students responded to her with greater interest.

As we reflect on the power of gratitude and the meaning of Thanksgiving Day, some of us can appreciate a warm home, a healthy meal, or family, friends and pets. Even those who do not enjoy such gifts may have been touched by a caring stranger, the song of a wild bird, or the sight of a setting sun and a rising moon.


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