Abundance and Gratitude

+ Peaches Sept 08 9417867_sIn my pursuit of fabulous peaches, I drove about 20 miles west to a farm in Bolton, Massachusetts the other day. The weather was idyllic, my favorite combination of bright sun, deep blue skies, low humidity and light, wafting breezes.

My destination was a farm that sits on the top of a hill with rolling slopes and a beautiful view of the horizon. The family has been farming this land since 1929, and there is a clear sense of the land being loved and well tended. A deep quiet, calm, and peaceful energy permeates this hilltop.

The farmer, who recognized me from the Farmer’s Market in town where I’d gotten to know him and his great peaches, invited me for a walk through the orchards. It was heavenly, as a peach lover, to see seventy or more trees (and that was just in one area of the farm!) laden with gorgeous, ripe, juicy peaches. Wow. Every tree in sight was covered in fruit. The apples were also ready to be picked and shone a beautiful pinkish color in the late afternoon light.

Plums as purple as I’ve ever seen were in abundance as well. The farmer picked a plum off the tree for me to eat. As I sank my teeth into it, I realized it was still warm from the sun. I’ve never seen such deep redness in a plum, nor had one so juicy.

All of this bounty, still on the tree; the tree rooted in the soil of Mother Earth, was such a clear illustration of abundance that I felt deeply moved. What the earth and rain and sun create for us!

What I saw certainly aligned with the dictionary’s first definition of Abundance – a great or plentiful amount. Also, with it’s second entry – fullness to overflowing.

Abundance is a term that is so often used to refer to our financial lives that we sometimes forget to think of abundance in connection with anything else. In fact, it takes until the third dictionary definition to find a mention of affluence, wealth. Even those words have a larger meaning than just finances and financial assets. We can have a wealth of love, patience, determination, generosity. Given these qualities, we can each live abundant lives no matter what our financial situation. Considered thoughtfully, each of us has qualities and gifts in abundance that we can notice, appreciate, and be grateful for.

Gratitude goes hand-in-hand with abundance. Being grateful in a conscious way, such as through gratitude journaling and other practices, keeps us aware of the abundance we have in our lives.

I did a practice for about six months of writing in a journal for seven minutes a day, keeping track of what I was grateful and thankful for. It was a great experience, and one I will resume. But, it was inevitable that things came along at times that I wasn’t particularly grateful for in the heartfelt, “hurray” kind of way. Getting sick, unexpected bills, or just being in a cranky place were harder to put into a gratitude journal than the obvious, easy things.

Reconciling these less delightful events and feelings helped me develop gradations of gratitude. Some days, I could only hold something with what I called, “wry appreciation” instead of full-out gratitude. Sometimes, the best I could do was to appreciate my willingness to show up and deal with things the best I could. Thinking from an attitude of gratitude wasn’t meant to be a “rose-colored glasses” exercise in my mind. But the practice was effective in helping me surround the harder stuff with something more positive – even if it was holding on to the tried and true encouragement, “this too shall pass!”

And, if all else fails as I’m recalling my day in my gratitude journal, I can always come back to my thankfulness for peaches – glorious peaches, fruit of the Divine.

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