There were plenty of reasons not to feel cheerful, ranging from my own health problems to problems of the world that I can’t fix. But as I sat out in the garden with my morning coffee, watching the first rays of sun hit the fall colors, I could only feel deep, deep gratitude.

A merle cluck-clucked his way through the hawthorn tree, searching for berries. A shy, little wren hipped out of the shelter of the bushes to sit on the edge of a flowerpot. When my delighted gaze became a bit too much, she flitted back. A huge flock of bright white gulls flew up from the newly harvested potato field, wheeled around, and lit on the brown earth again.

I reflected on how much abundance there is in my life. So much to be grateful for!

I thought back on a recent conversation with a cherished friend. Exploring a period when we were both too caught up in our own projections to see what was happening to the other. It wasn’t an easy conversation but the fact that we were both able to see this and admit it to the other was such a source of joy!

And how I recently confessed a dream I have been holding on to, to my sons. Expecting indifference or worse, I was thrilled to find that they (and their spouses) were extremely enthusiastic. So we have a shared dream we can work on together. It warms me to think of it. And, here too, I have to admit that it was my own projection of their possible reactions that kept me from sharing it earlier.

butterfly on coneflowerHappiness is so very simple. The old adage of counting your blessings every night before going to sleep, actually works. Whenever you get caught up in your own narrative, your projections on others, your private tale of misery – take a moment to think about all the things that you can feel grateful for. Even the simple joy of the sunlight hitting a flower. Especially that simple joy!

Wendell Berry has summed this up beautifully in his very moving poem, The Peace of Wild Things:

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.



  1. Maddi, to Wendell Berry’s poem I would add Thomas More’s “Prayer for Good Humour.”

    Grant me, O Lord, good digestion,
    and also something to digest.
    Grant me a healthy body, and
    the necessary good humour to maintain it.
    Grant me a simple soul that knows to
    treasure all that is good and that
    doesn’t frighten easily at the sight of evil,
    but rather finds the means to put things
    back in their place.
    Give me a soul that knows not boredom,
    grumblings, sighs and laments,
    nor excess of stress, because of that
    obstructing thing called “I.”
    Grant me, O Lord, a sense of good humour.
    Allow me the grace to be able to take a joke,
    to discover in life a bit of joy,
    and to be able to share it with others.

  2. Oh yes, Sabine, that’s a wonderful one! Thank you!

  3. Thank you, Maddie.Always so well spoken. Ues I count my blessings every day.

  4. Mary Lou Gillette

    Maddi, I give thanks for so many things at night when I am trying to fall asleep. My thoughts are on the beauty of nature, my prayers are said for family and friends, but still sleep is reluctant to come.

    William Wordsworth…To Sleep

    A flock of sheep that pass by one after one;
    The sound of rain, and bees murmuring;
    The fall of rivers, winds and seas,
    Smooth fields, white sheets of water, and pure sky;

    I’ve thought of all by turns, and yet do lie sleepless;
    And soon the small birds’ melodies must hear,
    First utter’d from my orchard trees
    And the first cuckoo’s melancholy cry.

    Even thus last night, and two nights more I lay,
    And could not win thee, Sleep ! by any stealth:
    So do not let me wear to-night away:

    Without Thee what is all the morning’s wealth?
    Come, blessed barrier between day and day,
    Dear mother of fresh thoughts and joyous health.

  5. Beautiful poem, Mary Lou! And I wish you the blessing of healing sleep.

  6. Dear Maddi. Once again, your words touch my heart and inspire me. When I reflect back upon all of the twists and turns I have taken on the road of my life, I realize how differently things might have turned out if I had made any other choices, or taken the wrong turn. I give thanks everyday, and I’m grateful for all of the blessings I have, and I consider my friendship with you, and these other fine ladies who have commented above, to be one of my many blessings.

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