Christianity, Chronic Illness, Faith, Gardening, Health, Recovery, Relationships, Spirituality, Trust, Uncategorized

Grateful Gardening

Today could more accurately be titled “Thoughts from the Garden”. I still haven’t been able to get back to the morning routine. Margaret had a procedure this morning to alleviate some of the pain in her back. Everything went well, and we are waiting anxiously to see if it helps. So, instead of the porch I spent some time in the garden. When I got home Thursday, the plants had grown huge during my absence –  beans, yellow squash, tomatoes, and peppers were abundantly ripe for the picking. It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is to raise our own produce (which is far more delicious than the local grocery store to boot!) when we keep it organic and do it God’s way.

I have to take a lot of breaks while spending time in the garden. Apparently, I’m not supposed to sweat because of my PICC line, so as not to get another infection. I’m following the doctor’s orders, although I not sure how I’m going to stay sweat-free during the summertime in Texas. I only need to open the front door and I’m suddenly thankful for anti-perspirant. I wonder if I can smear it all over. I’m just saying…

I’m really excited about being home and more grateful than you can possibly know. I have a couple of projects that need to be completed for work and there is one special project that I can’t wait to tell you about. I plan to begin sharing some of the details as we grow closer to its launch. It’s one that you can all be a part of in some way. I’m bursting at the seams to tell somebody! Patience, patience, patience…

Life, with all its inherent ups and downs is so much easier when I stay grateful. Unfortunately, I suffer from the all-too human malady of self-centeredness that makes staying grateful difficult at times. I forget how to “roll with the flow” and I like to “complicate the cornflakes” as my friend Jim used to say. I have this little switch inside that shifts poles from positive to negative whenever I feel threatened – and by “threatened” I mean fearful and, If I’m really honest, it simply means I’m afraid I won’t get my way. I’ve gotten far less self-centered as I’ve grown older, but it’s still easy to drop gratitude like a hot rock when I get in fear of not getting what I want or losing what I have. Sometimes, it’s relatively easy to get it back and sometimes it’s not. Either way, I know gratitude is the stabilizer on my ride through life.

Gratitude is one of those “Which came first – the chicken or the egg?” Zen-like questions. When I am grateful for the life I have, I seem to be at peace and I’m able to act from a center of kindness and compassion. Then there are times when peace and serenity is the farthest thing from my mind, but I act kindly toward the world around me, my attitude changes and I become grateful. I finally decide to quit trying to figure it out and just let it happen.

I have a friend in recovery who always says, “a grateful addict will never use”. I’ve found that to be true in recovery from addiction, but one doesn’t have to be an addict to appreciate that statement. My experience with people from all walks of life and, regardless of their issues, has shown me that kind, caring and loving people always seem to exude gratitude – they take nothing for granted. Essentially, grateful people find it difficult to be selfish and self-centered and always seem to be the people I want to be around. I don’t have a bunch of initials behind my name, and I can’t cite specific studies or offer scientific proof for why gratitude is essential to living well. It just is, at least as far as I can see…

I don’t want to take up anyone’s Friday-before-Memorial Day weekend with a long post, but I encourage you all to practice gratitude. You see, gratitude takes practice. You only “feel” it by practicing it, because at it’s heart, it’s a verb, an action, a way of living. I must admit, I had difficulty with gratitude for a long time. Over the years I learned to listen to my “predecessors”, people who were farther along in life. They told me that if I was having difficulty with the gratitude thing, then make a list of the things I’m grateful for. It was a pretty short list starting out. I had a friend everyone called “I ate today Stan” because he was always grateful for a roof over his head and eating that day. He probably taught me more about being grateful than anyone. I really miss him but I’m so thankful he was my friend. “Just keep it simple”. I did and now the list fills a lot of legal pads…

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