On my morning walk, today, I saw a mother and her child stopped across the street from my street. She was holding her phone and taking a picture of Mount Diablo which was shrouded in particularly beautiful mist. The child was holding her hands up as if she too had a phone to frame that beauty. It was a lovely image. As they captured the image of the mountain, I captured the image of them.
When I got to work today, I saw that last night’s rain had brought out a whole new congregation…of slugs. Oh ugh. And then I stopped and noticed their delicate beauty, lit as they were by the morning light.
Up to a year ago, my daily practice of gratitude consisted of sending one thing that I was grateful for to my gratitude buddy at the end of the day. In the last year, I have upped my game, because if the world is going to be twice as annoying, I will need triple the gratitude.
I still text my buddy every evening, blessed by the presence of this witness in my life for many years now.
Then I try every day to take a picture of something that is beautiful, inspiring, funny, silly, or just too strange to not take a picture of it. Today it was the slug, a perfect intervention because today I felt like a slug and was berating myself for it. The world’s message to see the beauty in our slugness was just in time.
And the last part of my practice is perhaps the hardest. I tried to be grateful for something about somebody I find difficult, somebody whose actions are not thrilling me to my core. For me, this is deep spiritual practice out of our Universalist tradition, which invites us to consider inherent worth and dignity of all beings, not just those we like or those of whom we approve. That means being a voice for those other exercise power over and it also means searching for that spark of understanding in those who are tyrants. Doing so makes them less scary, more understandable and it challenges me to grow. Since my own growth is the only thing I can control, it makes me feel more peaceful, powerful and joyful.
After all, if you have to be a slug, at least be a happy one.
The delicate beauty of the slug or the picture in my mind of the parent and child enjoying the mountain, gratitude for the small blessings of life, the stretch of learning and growing to find things that I otherwise wouldn’t find are all joyful practices which nurture my soul, expand my spirit and make me ready to receive the world.
What are yours?