Gratitude, Sharp and Sweet

Ann Spangler
Ann Spangler
2015 6 Apr

If you live in a northern climate, you know there are few joys as sharp and sweet as spring, unfolding slowly into lush abundance at the end of a long, harsh winter. The sunshine, the colors, the smells—everything conspires to make you glad.

Sometimes we don’t know what we have until we’ve lost it for a time, like the woman who walked into her doctor’s office complaining of a pain and walked out knowing something might be seriously wrong. “I walked out feeling stunned,” she said. “Yet I walked out into the street and it shone like the New Jerusalem. . . . Houses, shops, pavements, bare winter trees, were all incredibly beautiful to me that morning. Everything was transfigured. Even the fishmonger’s smile, when he handed us two cod fillets, seemed beautiful and very precious, as if it was a gift. In fact everything seemed to be an astonishing gift on that bleak morning when I wondered whether I was being asked to give it back again.”(1)

Life can bring such joy and pain, a contrast of light and darkness. If we let them, the losses we suffer can be a filter through which we see the ordinary gifts of life in sharper relief—the ability to breathe, walk, hear, sing, pray, hold another’s hand. All these can be occasions for gratitude, even when life is difficult.

Today, let us focus not on our losses but on all we have been given. Let us live with eyes wide open to God’s many blessings.

1. Jo Farrow, quoted in Christine Whitmire, Practicing Peace (Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books, 2007), 110.

(Image courtesy of hirekatsu at