Gratitude and Wonder

Two questions came to mind this morning.

What did you notice today that inspired you to feel gratitude?

What did you notice today that inspired your curiosity and sense of wonder?

My granddaughter and daughter inspired my answer for today.

My granddaughter greeting the morning on Madeline Island (Photographer – Jnana Hand)

These may be questions you ask every day. From my experience, though, these are questions that are rarely if ever inspired by mainstream media. Instead, mainstream media focus on events that promote fear and anger. We are programmed to live in fear of a virus, economic insecurity, and each other. We’re constantly reminded of the egregious harm and suffering of our ancestors and encouraged to blame the descendants of peoples who are no longer living, perpetuating violent divisiveness.

Another question follows.

What if we focused on what is really important for our collective well-being and survival?

I remember the work of Louie Schwartzberg, “Nature’s Beauty Inspires Gratitude” (TEDxSMU, December 18, 2012).

A passage from Robin Wall Kimmerer’s (2013) book, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge, and the teachings of plants, surfaces as I watch Schwartzberg’s film.

“Science can be a language of distance which reduces a being to its working parts; it is a language of objects. The language scientists speak, however precise, is based on a profound error in grammar, an omission, a grave loss in translation from the native languages of these shores.

“My first taste of the missing language was the word Puhpowee on my tongue. I stumbled upon it in a book by Anishinaabe ethnobiologist Keewaydinoquay, in a treatise on the traditional use of fungi by our people. Puhpowee, she explained, translates as ‘the force which causes mushrooms to push up from the earth overnight.’ As a biologist, I was stunned that such a word existed…

“In the three syllables of this new word I could see an entire process of close observation in the damp morning woods, the formulation of a theory for which English has no equivalent. The makers of this word understood a world of being, full of unseen energies that animate everything.” (Kimmerer, 2013, p. 49)

Schwartzberg’s work clearly shows the magic of those unseen energies at play.

I sincerely hope you have a chance to notice something today that inspires gratitude and a sense of wonder.

Work Cited

Robin Wall Kimmerer (2013). Braiding sweetgrass: Indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge, and the teaching of plants. Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed Editions.

36 thoughts on “Gratitude and Wonder

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    1. Thanks, Carol, for your deep reflections on perspectives that are mostly pushed to the margins alongside mundane, work-a-day concerns. The world, presently up against a pathogen, is trying to counter it by shutting down and closing flanks. In other words, delinking from everything and everyone around. Even the terminology of ‘social distancing’ that is bandied about is inappropriate. Physical distancing may be, but can humans really afford to socially distance and isolate themselves without sliding into eventual destruction? Clearly, the only solution is to move towards deeper connect with nature without treating it as a captive resource for mindless consumption and foster greater cooperation and sharing of resources and know-how between regions worldwide. If that happens, the pandemic would indeed have served a larger purpose. Trust you are safe and fine. Best wishes…

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Raj, it is such a wonderful gift to hear from you. Thank you so much for your kind words and for sharing your always profound and eloquent reflections. Sending my best wishes to you. 💜

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  1. I’m grateful to you, Carol. You are an inspiration and bring such wonderful images and ideas. You know gratitude is what I now call a “super-power.” I have started the Story Healing School of Light and my first class is Practice Gratitude in Trying Times. Have a wonderful week.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am deeply grateful to you, too, Skywalker. I appreciate your kindness and your tenacity to continue exploring new ways to raise awareness through your work. I wish you success with your new venture and send blessings, dear friend. 💜

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  2. Carol, thank you for your beautiful and inspiring post. I’m very much in need of letting go of the fear and anxiety that this pandemic has brought into my life and focusing on the wonder and gratitude for what each day brings.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ah, Rosaliene, hearing from you is always a gift. It is so hard for those of us who care deeply to hold center in times like these. There’s so much needless suffering, injustice, cruelty, and complacency, dredging up ancestral memories, past wounds, and fears for the future. And yet, birds still sing and plants bloom while rainbows grace the sky after storms. It’s not easy, though, to focus on beauty when we’re in pain. Sending you love and hugs, dear friend. The work you share helps build understanding and hope. 💜

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “We’re constantly reminded of the egregious harm and suffering of our ancestors and encouraged to blame the descendants of peoples who are no longer living, perpetuating violent divisiveness.” Thank you for this statement of grace, Carol. Whenever I hear statements like, “If you aren’t black or indigenous you can’t possibly know how I feel,” I see it as yet another attempt to divide us. We should be looking for what unites us, not what separates us. What links us all is that we are human. We love, we fear, we strive, we fail, we suffer, regardless of race.
    And where are the stories in the media of solidarity among different peoples? The fact that many whites marched shoulder to shoulder with Martin Luther King Jr. in the marches for social justice and were beaten by police along with their black brothers and sisters. Two young white men were murdered by white supremacists for trying to bring desegregation to the south. Musicians like Eric Clapton and Johnny Winter (and many more) generously gave back to the black artists that inspired them. When Muddy Waters’ career was on the skids, Johnny got him a three-record deal and took him out on tour. B.B. King often said how generous Clapton had been to him over the years. The Beatles on their first US tour refused to play at a segregated concert. And remember Artists Against Apartheid in the 1980s?
    These are the stories we need to be telling, the stories that show us where we are united.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Art, It’s so good to hear from you! I appreciate your thoughtful comments a great deal. You have elegantly described an important history of multicultural solidarity.

      Reading many alternative views of history, I’ve learned that the stories of immigrants are almost always interwoven with loss, sacrifice, exploitation, discrimination, and suffering. I have also had the opportunity to learn from the stories shared by hundreds of students about the challenges their ancestors had to overcome to emigrate and then “to make it in America.” I think about your own experiences, too. How could you not be affected as the descendant of one of the “home children” when you are told you can’t understand suffering? The “oppression olympics” is always an effective way to create and perpetuate misunderstandings, ignorance, and divisiveness. One needs to ask who benefits by divide and conquer tactics. The answer should be very obvious.

      I agree that we need to tell stories about working together. I think of the international support expressed by people from all kinds of backgrounds to protest the egregious police murder of George Floyd, and those who stood on the front lines in North Dakota with the water protectors despite the violent reactions of petrochemical corporation mercenaries and the US federal and state and governments.

      Thank you for addressing such an important issue, Art. Sending my best wishes.

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  4. Wonderful photo of your granddaughter. Also wonderful teachings. As a student I will never forget the word Puhpowee. Often I’ve tried to describe how mushrooms burst through the earth with such strength, mostly, describing it, within my own mind. I know you taught more in this post, about civility, forgiveness, who should be blamed, who should remain blameless and who runs the whole shooting match. We’re all both good and bad. Take care, there is a swirl of smoke from my campfire heading east, I hope you see it. Take care.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for your wonderful comments, Bob. My daughter is an amazing photographer.

      The magic of life is so often missed. I sense your reverence of life, though, in your photos and reflections about stars, mountains, animals, flowers, and family.

      I hope the smoke from your campfire keeps some of the mosquitoes away. 😀

      Sending my best wishes, dear friend. 💜

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You gotta love the language that has a word for ‘the force which causes mushrooms to push up from the earth overnight.’ If I were younger, I would make an attempt to learn such language. So many words are dying every year, especially those related to Nature.
    Sorry I have been away for a long time. Stay safe!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Inese, I love your comment about learning a language that celebrates the life force in Nature. Anishinaabemowin (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ojibwe_language) is a language that uses verbs in place of many nouns to emphasize the life force within rocks, rivers, trees, plants, animals, etc. I wish I had had a chance to learn the language too, although my mother did pass one a bit of the worldview through the ways she related to the world.

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful, lovely comments. Sending my gratitude and best wishes. 💜

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Carol, I “wonder” if these “gratitude” quotes strike your fancy as much as they do mine:

    “I feel a very unusual sensation — if it’s not indigestion, I think it must be gratitude.” –Benjamin Disraeli

    “In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be grateful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.” –H. L. Mencken

    “Of all human feelings, gratitude has the shortest memory.” — Evan Esar

    I fear that I have been guilty of the latter myself, for forgetting to check up on your blog in recent weeks (although, in my defense, I’m an octogenarian, so I forget a lot of stuff). 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ah, Mister Muse, thank you so much for always making me smile. Please forgive my belated reply. As a septuagenarian, I am not always able to keep up with blogging, even for my valued virtual friends. 💜

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Your comment reminded me of something happened yesterday. I was stopped mowing to refuel the mower and I saw movement on a house across the street. I looked and there was a couple of house sparrows doing what seemed like a dance on a porch roof. Suddenly, for no reason, I felt a heart-swelling rush of something that could be called love, but it was so big, it seemed to encompass the entire universe. I thought, yeah, that’s life in motion and it’s everywhere and I’m a part of it. In that moment everything was perfect – no room for anything else. It doesn’t last, it can’t last, but it was wonderful and amazing and life-affirming.

      Liked by 2 people

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