I grew up saying nightly prayers and, I suppose, those nighttime prayers were my initial foray into gratitude. I didn’t think of it as such when I was a child; I don’t remember truly understanding the word gratitude. I prayed because my parents told me to do so. But all these years later, gratitude occupies a special space in my life.
I do not kneel at bedside and pray in the way I did as a child. I do, however, count my blessings. Each and every day. My favorite ways to explore gratitude are writing in my journal and making photographs. Both have become anchors in my life as I work to maintain a sense of groundedness in a fast world. Pausing to consider, to remember, to feel the goodness that is tucked into each day is a powerful practice to which I turn often. It’s a practice that fills my heart and softens my rougher edges.
On a recent day, in the midst of extra busyness, I felt an urge (a need) to pay special attention to gratitude. I decided to keep my camera close by as I moved throughout this particular day, planning each hour (for a twelve-hour period) to note some gratitude. The images you see here are from that day.
They’re simple moments of pause, of reflection, of gratefulness.
Looking at these images, I can call to mind exactly what was going on that day. Also, I can call to mind — and feel deeply — the fullness of heart, the appreciation to detail, the gathering of goodness. I felt it that day; I feel it still.
The morning at my desk. The sneakers that support my running feet. The plants indoors and out. The sky above me. The light(s) around me. There was so much that day. There is so much, every hour of every day.
On this day filled with the ordinary things that keep me busy (because there are a lot of things that keep me busy) (and I know there are a lot of things that keep you busy too), I reminded myself, each hour, to pause. Lunch could wait a few more minutes, or the laundry, or the dinner dishes. There was always time to pause and make a photograph. There was always time to pause and feel gratitude.
So I paused. And I felt gratitude. Once each hour, and sometimes more.
We don’t need to make photographs every hour of every day. We don’t need to write long gratitude lists every day. But if we pause just once, each and every day, with the deliberate intention to note some gratitude … oh my. Can you imagine the ripples of softness that will create?
And so I offer this invitation to you: to pause just once today, and again tomorrow, and again the next day. Write it, snap a photo, whisper it to a loved one, hold it privately in your thoughts … whatever feels best for you. Once each day, maybe more, but at least once.
May we all recognize the goodness tucked into our days. Make we all make time to pause and celebrate in this way. Once each day, maybe more. But at least once.
Michelle GD is a writer and photographer. She notices the tiny moments that make up a day… the moments that fill the spaces, the in-betweens. She helps others learn to do the same in workshops that explore writing and photography. You can visit Michelle at her website and her quiet corner of Instagram.
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