“Three Gratitudes,” by Carrie Newcomer
Every night before I go to sleep
I say out loud
Three things that I'm grateful for,
All the significant, insignificant
Extraordinary, ordinary stuff of my life.
It's a small practice and humble,
And yet, I find I sleep better
Holding what lightens and softens my life
Ever so briefly at the end of the day.
Sunlight, and blueberries,
Good dogs and wool socks,
A fine rain,
A good friend,
Fresh basil and wild phlox,
My father's good health,
My daughter's new job,
The song that always makes me cry,
Always at the same part,
No matter how many times I hear it.
Decent coffee at the airport,
And your quiet breathing,
The stories you told me,
The frost patterns on the windows,
English horns and banjos,
Wood Thrush and June bugs,
The smooth glassy calm of the morning pond,
An old coat,
A new poem,
My library card,
And that my car keeps running
Despite all the miles.
And after three things,
More often than not,
I get on a roll and I just keep on going,
I keep naming and listing,
Until I lie grinning,
Blankets pulled up to my chin,
Awash with wonder
At the sweetness of it all.
I find it difficult to read this poem and not begin listing off my own “gratitudes.”
Family snuggles at 7am,
Hot tea and a fire on a cold weeknight,
Light pouring through stained-glass windows,
Cornbread (I’m eating some right now).
Ultimately, gratitude is less something we feel and more something we do. It’s less an emotion and more a practice. When we focus our attention to gratitude or thanksgiving, we find that it shapes what we see, which it turns shapes how we feel, which then shapes how we live.
Faith, like gratitude, is less something we feel and more something we practice. It’s lived in the decisions we make, how we treat the people in our lives—both those we know and even those we don’t. The words we say and the ones we choose not to say. How we spend our money.
In this season when we’re invited to take stock of the year gone by and imagine what’s in store for the year ahead, what would it mean to practice gratitude, in concrete ways? Something as simple as a bedtime ritual, or perhaps something more substantial, like the investment of time or resources in people doing good work? Maybe a commitment to engage with those whom we disagree in ways that seek understanding and not victory? What would it look like to practice gratitude in the year ahead? What kind of people would we become?