"How can I be grateful in a world where there is so much violence and suffering?"
Where else can you be grateful?
Suppose you lived in a heavenly realm where everything was perfected, nothing "bad" ever happened, and there were no contrasts or opposites; a world where you only expected, and only could expect, unalloyed pleasure? Would you be grateful for anything?
It is precisely in this world of contrast and paradox that gratitude is a meaningful spiritual practice. The practice of gratitude, even for a moment, brings blessing to your whole environment.
We can find the key to this practice in our most humble and unnoticed word, "enough." The moment we experience "enough," the do-er vanishes, craving dissolves, and we rest in wholeness.
The instant we've had "enough" of a bad thing is a portal to liberation. The instant we've had "enough" of a good thing is a doorway to the kingdom of praise.
I do not wish you fulfillment of your desires. I do not wish you abundance. I wish you something more rich and profound. I wish you just enough.
After writing the above, I came across the following story, shared on facebook:
I WISH YOU ENOUGH
'Recently, I overheard a mother and daughter in their last moments together at the airport as the daughter's departure had been announced. Standing near the security gate, they hugged and the mother said:
'"I love you and I wish you enough."
'The daughter replied, "Mom, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Mom." They kissed and the daughter left.
'The mother walked over to the window where I sat. Standing there, I could see she wanted and needed to cry.
'I tried not to intrude on her privacy but she welcomed me in by asking, "Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?" "Yes, I have," I replied. "Forgive me for asking but why is this a forever good-bye?"
'"I am old and she lives so far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is the next trip back will be for my funeral," she said.
'When you were saying good-bye, I heard you say, "I wish you enough." May I ask what that means?"
'She began to smile. "That's a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone." She paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail and she smiled even more.
'"When we said 'I wish you enough' we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them". Then turning toward me, she shared the following, reciting it from memory,
I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.'She then began to cry and walked away.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.
'They say it takes a minute to find a special person. An hour to appreciate them. A day to love them. And an entire life to forget them.'
- Author Unknown
Painting: 'Three Friends of Winter' by Zhao Mengjian, 13th C. Classic symbols of graceful endurance in the coldest months: the pine, the bamboo, and the plum.