Sometimes it’s hard to remember to be grateful, especially when we feel like we are being inconvenienced. One glance in the last 24 hours at any number of social media platforms confirms I’m not the only one forgetting this simple and critical component to our sustained happiness. It’s March 7, two days away from our annual spring forward for Daylight Savings Time and what feels long past when we normally feel the welcome effects of springtime on its way here in the south.
Instead of daffodils, we got ravaged by an ice storm that pummeled us without reprieve for approximately nineteen hours, give or take. There are homes and businesses scattered across the region without power, trees down everywhere, horrible road conditions, schools are cancelled (again) and I’m out of flour so couldn’t make pancakes this morning (sigh).
Before I ever left the comfort of my warm covers early this morning, I reached for the current book of historical fiction I’m anxious to complete: People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. (Fellow bookclubbers: I am hurrying to catch up to this month’s selection so I can participate in the conversation; I promise.)
As I opened to my bookmark, it was only a moment for me to remember I was in Tarragona, Spain, in 1492, and the Spanish Inquisition, having started in 1478, was well underway. Captivated and horrified I read through the unconscionable tortures inflicted on a young man, the brutal beating to death of his father, the frightening and lonely labor and delivery of his wife, the courageous escape of his sister with his newborn son and the systematic expulsion of all Jews from Tarragona. All in the name of God.
Earlier chapters took me to Venice in 1609, where my heart ached as hundreds of precious books were summarily burned for their supposed provocative and heretical text, and to Sarajevo in 1940 just prior to a 1941 German occupation, when Anti-Semitism caught everyone off-guard in a city that prided itself in one city block hosting home to the synagogue, the mosque and the Orthodox church.
This is not a treatise on religious atrocities over the centuries; it is a gratitude reminder.
My Gratitudes Today
- I am a single mother thriving on my own without forced dependency on a man for my living or my home.
- I believe what I believe and do not live in fear that anyone is going to seek me out, forcefully enter my home, harm my daughter, threaten the lives of my loved ones, or in any way disrupt my life because of my religious affiliations.
- I own and have access to more books than I will ever read in this lifetime (sigh) and I am privileged to know how to read, have always been encouraged to think and to challenge what I learn so that I can gain truths and knowledge for myself.
- I have a pantry full of food and am less than 24 hours from purchasing more flour, but am confident that in a bind I can always walk next door and my cup will be filled.
- I wasn’t required to go or to be anywhere today and could work from the comfort of my own home knowing my daughter was safe and cozy and all of our basic needs are being met today. And every single day.
- I laugh, love and live the way I choose.
I am looking forward to spring with its colorful display, but until it arrives I will remember the daffodils from springtimes’ past and the gratitudes today.
Daffodils by William Wordsworth, read by Jeremy Irons