Thinking About – Gratitude
I’m currently reading Rupert Sheldrake’s Science and Spiritual Practices and one of things I’ll be doing more here on the blog is book and music reviews, so expect a full review in the next couple of weeks. In the mean time the book has inspired me to look at the topics it covers from a modern Druid perspective. There are seven topics covered in the book, the first being meditation, which I recently wrote about here, the next is gratitude.
It was many years ago now. I still remember taking part in one of my first interfaith conferences. The talks were interesting, and there had been some very thought-provoking theological discussions, but eventually it became time for lunch. We all queued (as is the divine-given right of all Brits) and eventually sat down together to eat. Everyone immediately tucked in to the jacket potatoes we had chosen. All except for one Christian priest. I watched him pause for just a moment or two, eyes closed, obviously saying Grace in quiet contemplation of the food he was about to receive. It touched me deeply. I looked around and everyone else, all of the Pagans, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, everyone, was all eating and chatting, oblivious to that small moment of gratitude. It was obviously done is a regular practice. It didn’t come across as holier-than-though, and at no point did he look around to see if anyone had been watching. It was a beautiful, honest, moment where a human being acknowledged their gratitude for the life-sustaining food he was about to eat.
In the section of Rupert’s book he makes this observation – when we go to a restaurant the consumption of food has become more about a financial exchange. We sit down, chose from a menu, and place our order. When it comes to the table we expect it to be well-cooked, attractive, smell delicious, and to be exactly what we ordered. The food is about enjoyment, and coming up to expectations. If that food happens to be an eight ounce rib-eye it needs to have been cooked to our requirements. The fact that we are paying good money for this meal is one of the over-riding elements. Not the fact that we are eating what was a living being, or that this experience is such a privilege when compared to many areas of this very same planet, where many are starving. No. It’s all about value for money and getting the service we require.
Now, there might be many reading this who may be thinking, well, that’s not what I feel or do, but you can’t deny that it’s what seems to be the norm. The western capitalist sense of privilege over-rides the sense of gratitude. I’ll be honest. I’ve done it. And sometimes it takes reading a chapter in a book to remind me how much I can take for granted something so essential, so primal and a part of being alive. I’m making the promise to reset, to remember the actions of that priest all those years ago, and to take a moment each time before I eat, to give thanks for the food that sustains me. I’ll add this to my morning daily practice, and my daily meditations, which are already making such a difference to my life.
If you already do this, hats off to you. If you don’t, maybe you’d like to join me?
But of course gratitude doesn’t stop with our food. There is our health, family, friends, job, where we live, the music we listen to, our very breath, wild nights out and calm peaceful moments of contemplation. Like meditation, moments of active gratitude can help with our moods, our well-being, our health.
When things are so weird in the world it might sound odd to suggest that taking moments of gratitude can help us to be more positive, but it’s probably because of those things that we really need to seek out and remember what we are grateful for right now. From the sun rising every day, to the glass of clean water we drink, there is still plenty to be grateful for.
And I am grateful for you for taking the time to read this article. Let’s be grateful together.